Archives for : February2016

What would life be like if Christ actually had not been raised from the dead?

    LIFE WITHOUT CHRIST’S RESURRECTION

Imagine with me for a moment.  The year is 2075 and technology has advanced in ridiculous proportions.  Through these advancements, researchers have been able to find out, with 100 percent accuracy, specific details of major historical events.  Using these tools they discovered the answers to questions like who killed John F. Kennedy, what happened to Amelia Earhart, what happened the Angkor Wat civilization, and what happened to the dinosaurs.  Most importantly, the researchers found, again with 100 percent accuracy, that Christ was not raised from the dead and was actually a normal man.

What would life be like if Christ actually had not been raised from the dead?  Just posing this question sends painful chills through my body.  In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul was posing this exact question.  If there was no resurrection (Vs. 13) and Christ had not been raised (Vs. 13-14), then what would this mean?  Here is Paul’s answer…

If Christ Had Not Been Resurrected…

– Preaching Would Be Vain (Vs. 14).  Anything that would be preached from Scripture would be meaningless.  There would be no point in coming to church and worshipping.  The Bible would be degraded down to a “good book” about moral living.  There would be no point in believing what was preached or making any life changes.

 – Faith Would Be Vain And Worthless (Vs. 14, 17).  If Christ remained in His tomb, faith would simply become ignorance.  There would be no point in having faith.  It would just be a waste of time.  If there is no faith, then there is also no hope (Vs. 19).  No hope in or after this life.

– The Apostles Become False Witnesses Of God (Vs. 15).  All of the apostles’ writings and teachings would be trash.  Instead of being witnesses of God, they would be liars.  So for us, there would be nothing meaningful to tell people about Christ.  There would be no conversions.  No one would, or even could, be saved.

– We Would Be Lost In Sin (Vs. 17).  This is definitely the most painful point to grasp.  We would not be going to heaven.  There would be no hope of salvation or peace after this life.  The burden of our sins would be ours alone to bear.

– Those Who Lived A Life For Christ And Died Are Not In Heaven (Vs. 18).  One of the single greatest hopes after this life is to be able to see the ones we loved in heaven again one day.  However, if Christ was not raised, then they lived a pointless life.  We will not see grandpa, grandma, mom, dad, or our brothers and sisters in heaven because a lie.

 – Christians Are To Be Most Pitied Of All Men (Vs. 19).  We are to be most pitied because we have chosen to live a life abstaining from all the “pleasures” in this life.  Instead of “living life to its fullest” we have chosen to miss out.  But all of this turns out to be for nothing.  In addition, we have taught others to obey the Gospel, based on false promises, thus robbing them of this “good life” as well.

No Christ, no faith, no eternal expectations, no heaven, and certainly no salvation.  What a miserable life this would be!  Sadly, this is exactly how many people in this world live.  Everything is about the here and now.  There is simply no hope to be found and as a result there is very little purpose to life.  If everyone in the world came to this conclusion, there would be nothing to stop people from committing heinous crimes day in and day out (Genesis 6:5Genesis 6:5
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5 And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

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).  People could do whatever they wanted (Judges 17:6; 21:25Judges 17:6; 21:25
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6 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. 25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

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).  It’s hard to imagine, but this world would be even more sinful and corrupt.

However, praise be to God that Christ WAS raised from the dead!  This being the truth, it makes everything we do as Christians worth it.  Preaching becomes significant, faith becomes valuable, the apostles’ writings become meaningful, evangelism becomes beneficial, and most of all, we can be saved from our sins, which is unimaginably precious.

Christ has been raised from the dead!  Therefore, the service we do as Christians is priceless.  It’s sad that Christians who know Christ has been raised are actually living their lives as if He had not been.  Do not get discouraged by the daily challenges and struggles that come with living a godly life (1 Peter 1:6-91 Peter 1:6-9
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6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold trials, 7 that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perisheth though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ: 8 whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

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; James 1:2-4James 1:2-4
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2 Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; 3 Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience. 4 And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.

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).  It is meaningful and valuable.  Keep pressing towards the goal that has been promised to the faithful (1 Peter 1:4-51 Peter 1:4-5
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4 unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

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; Colossians 1:5Colossians 1:5
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5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,

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; Matthew 5:11-12Matthew 5:11-12
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11 Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.

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; 2 Corinthians 5:1-22 Corinthians 5:1-2
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5 1 For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens. 2 For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven:

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).  Christ has been raised, therefore we too will be raised one day (1 Thess. 4:13-181 Thess. 4:13-18
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13 But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; 17 then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

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).  Since this is the truth, let’s live our lives like we believe Christ was resurrected.

–Brett Petrillo

We love to hear gossip

“A false witness will perish, and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever” (Proverbs 21:28Proverbs 21:28
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28 A false witness shall perish; But the man that heareth shall speak so as to endure.

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, NIV).

You know the story about the lady who apologized to her preacher for spreading some juicy piece of gossip. He tore a hole in a pillow, and allowed the goose feathers to fly away in the wind.

The point of the story was that retrieving a piece of gossip was as impossible as retrieving all those feathers, scattered across the plains. But I know how to stop gossip.

We love to hear gossip. And especially if the gossip is racy, if it brings the rich and famous down to our level. Somehow we feel affirmed if a film star’s beauty was, well, cosmetically enhanced.

We reason that all it would take for us to be as stunning is a nip here, and a tuck there. In my case, only minor surgery would be necessary, right? But I know the secret to stopping gossip, dead in its tracks.

It takes two to gossip, a speaker, and a willing listener. Gossip is what no one claims to like, but everyone enjoys. It seems that though we don’t believe everything we hear, that doesn’t stop us from repeating it.

Is it really true that “that church” didn’t do so and so, or is the speaker really seeking an excuse for not being faithful? Is it really true that that “horrible man” did those things to his wife, or is she simply trying to get back at him?

The best way to stop gossip, dead in its tracks, is to stop listening. While it is certainly true that the gossiper is wrong to spread rumors, it is also true that the listener enables gossip to spread. He is the wind that spreads the feathers to places far and wide!

by Stan Mitchell

Marriage with selfish participants is doomed.

MARRIAGE: CONSUMERS OR COOPERATORS?

William Doherty, in Take Back Your Marriage, writes about “Resisting Consumer Marriage.” He goes a long way in defining that concept with his good, thorough discussion of it. He writes, “Consumer culture has always been based on individuals pursuing their personal desires. But in the late twentieth century, advertisers began to emphasize desire for desire’s sake…Consumer culture has always been one of self-gratification, but the entitlement dimension is more prominent now” (30-31). He later says that certain “jingles” or tunes, to borrow ad speak, play in our minds, things like “I am not getting my needs met!”, “I deserve better!”, “If only I were married to that one!”, “My marriage is not as good as you’re marriage!”, “My spouse is a flawed person!”, or “I’m the good guy here!” (ibid., 44-46). He ends by urging, “The best way to keep the consumer culture from dominating your marriage is to see yourself as a citizen of your marriage…Being a citizen of a marriage means taking responsibility to make things better and not just be passive, to value the marriage itself and not just your own interest in it” and several other wise, valuable pieces of advice (47). Doherty seems to have identified a major threat to marriage in the modern world. He gives it a new and catchy name, but its true identity is “selfishness.”

Marriage with selfish participants is doomed. That seems harsh and pessimistic, but I have seen it too many times. Me-first marriages meltdown. Interestingly, Peter encourages a different model upon which to build a marriage. In 1 Peter 3:1-71 Peter 3:1-7
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3 1 In like manner, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, even if any obey not the word, they may without the word be gained by the behavior of their wives; 2 beholding your chaste behavior coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be the outward adorning of braiding the hair, and of wearing jewels of gold, or of putting on apparel; 4 but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 5 For after this manner aforetime the holy women also, who hoped in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands: 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose children ye now are, if ye do well, and are not put in fear by any terror. 7 Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered.

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, he addresses husbands and wives. It is a passage that speaks to unity and security. Focus particularly on the central phrase, “Being heirs together of the grace of life.” In marriage, you have a singular identity because you are “fellow-heirs.” You have a singular goal since you are fellow-heirs “of the grace of life.” You have a singular approach as you are heirs “together”–not mine, not yours, but ours and us! This model, the biblical model, calls for husband and wife to be cooperators. We are teammates, pulling the same direction and encouraging each other. That will never be done in a sin-free, perfect environment because each participant cannot qualify for that (cf. Rom. 3:23Rom. 3:23
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23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

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). At the beginning, God saw marriage as the lifelong opportunity of each to suitable help for the other (Gen. 2:18Gen. 2:18
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18 And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.

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). May we have the grace and wisdom to do the same.

— Neal Pollard

The Giving Pledge

The Giving Pledge is a philanthropic campaign led by two billionaires, investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, in which other billionaires are asked to give away at least half their wealth during their lifetimes or after their death, and to publicly state their intentions with a letter.

Another 17 U.S. billionaires, including Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz, have made the pledge. In addition to Zuckergerg and Moskovitz, pledges were also made by AOS co-founder Steve Case, financier Carl Icahn, and former Wall Street executive, Michael Milken. They join 40 other U.S. billionaires in The Giving Pledge.

“The Giving Pledge has re-energized people thinking about philanthropy and doing things in philanthropy, and I look forward to many more conversations with families who are truly fortunate and whose generosity can and will change lives,” said Warren Buffett.

Buffett and Gates have been trying to generate similar philanthropic efforts in other countries. They will continue to try to encourage other billionaires in the U.S. (numbering more than 400 according to Forbes
magazine) to make the pledge.

Billions of dollars spent in charitable efforts will accomplish a lot of good, but all of the billionaires in the world can’t out-give God!

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” – James 1:17James 1:17
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17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.

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“He has not left himself without witness: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” – Acts 14:17Acts 14:17
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17 And yet He left not himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness.

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God “gives to all life, breath, and all things.” – Acts 17:25Acts 17:25
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25 neither is he served by men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

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The GREATEST Gift that God has given is the Gift of His Son to die on the cross for the sins of the world (John 3:16John 3:16
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16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

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; 1 John 2:21 John 2:2
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2 and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.

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). Jesus was the greatest Gift because He met our greatest need: salvation from sin. Through our acceptance of this Gift on His terms, we may have forgiveness of our sins and the hope of living eternally with Him (Ephesians 1:7Ephesians 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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; Titus 1:2Titus 1:2
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2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal;

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

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), confessing Christ 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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), baptism (immersion) into Christ (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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), and the “pledge” and commitment of living faithfully to His will for the rest of one’s life (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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).

God has acted on His Pledge of love for you and for me in many ways, but especially through the Gift of His Son. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:152 Corinthians 9:15
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15 Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.

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Won’t YOU express your gratitude to the Giving God by accepting His gift through your trusting obedience?

David A. Sargent

How many people do you know who are “believers” but ’re not “belongers” ?

JOSHUA HARRIS AFFIRMS that there are many people who “date” the church, but who are unwilling to fall in love with and be committed to her…

And you know, I think he’s right. How many people do you know who are “believers” but they’re not belongers? They believe in Jesus, but don’t want to be tied down. They “date” the church, but want to remain independent and free of commitment and responsibility.

Friends, instead of seeing the church for all its flaws and foibles, why not see it as the wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:9-11Ephesians 3:9-11
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9 and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God who created all things; 10 to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

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), and the beautiful bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-32Ephesians 5:25-32
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25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; 26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: 29 for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; 30 because we are members of his body. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church.

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). Committing to the church doesn’t tie one down, rather it anchors one through the storms of life. And it’s flaws? It’s flaws provide us with an opportunity to love, serve, practice patience, and grow more like our Savior.

Listen friends, don’t allow yourself to use the excuse that the church is too messed up to commit to it. Jesus is the only one who has the right to disown or give up on the church, but he never has and never will.

Therefore, let me leave you with this challenge. Many people are fond of saying that we need to develop a heart for the poor or a heart for the lost, and these are good desires. But may I challenge you to also develop a heart for the church? Get involved. Get committed. Take on responsibility. Invest yourself. After all, if Jesus loves the church, shouldn’t we? Steve Higginbotham at: http://preachinghelp.org/articles/MercEmail338%20(05-21-09).htm

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33Matthew 6:33
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33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

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Mike Benson

The word church comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which means “the called out.”

NO ONE WILL deny that the Bible talks about a church…

But whose church? Which church? What church?

Let us begin by pointing out what it is not. The church as described in the Bible is not Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish. It is not denominational, inter-denominational, or sectarian. It is not a political organization, just another social organization, and neither is it a material meeting house.

The majority of people do not understand the church because they do not know what it is. Consequently, they do not understand the purpose of it, the importance of it, or the work of it. But the Bible plainly tells us what it is. The word church comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which means “the called out.” So the church is a called out body of people, those who have been called out of the world into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13Colossians 1:13
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13 who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love;

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). It is the spiritual body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:271 Corinthians 12:27
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27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof.

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), made up of those who have obeyed Christ (Hebrews 5:8,9Hebrews 5:8,9
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8 though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation;

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), and therefore saved by Him and added to His church (Mark 16:16Mark 16:16
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16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

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; Acts 2:47Acts 2:47
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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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). Another way of putting it, the church consists of the followers of Christ.

The word church appears in the Bible in two senses. First, it is spoken of in the universal sense. This is what Christ had in mind when he said, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18Matthew 16:18
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18 And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

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). There are many other verses where the word church is used in the same way, speaking of the church in a universal sense. That is, wherever the church may be found in the world, if it is the Bible church, it is that church which Jesus said He would build. Second, it is spoken of in the local sense. For instance, when Paul was writing to the church at Rome, and speaking of the various congregations, he said, “The churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:16Romans 16:16
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16 Salute one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ salute you.

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). He wasn’t speaking of a number of churches, in the sense of denominations, but rather a number of local congregations of the Lord’s church. J. C. Choate

“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:21 Corinthians 1:2
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2 unto the church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours:

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Mike Benson

It’s unpleasant to live with a wife who nags

“It is better to live in the corner of the housetop than in a house shared by a quarrelsome wife,” (Proverbs 21:9Proverbs 21:9
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9 It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, Than with a contentious woman in a wide house.

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, ESV).

Before we go any further, a warning to the chauvinistically challenged. The image given here pictures a typical house in Israel during Solomon’s time, where the roof was flat, and one could mount a flight of stairs in order to gain access to the roof.

On hot summer evenings, this was the most pleasant part of the house, for from its vantage point one could perhaps pick up an evening breeze. It was from the top of the palace roof that King David spied the beautiful Bathsheba engaged in an effort to become, well, hygienically correct (2 Samuel 11:22 Samuel 11:2
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2 And it came to pass at eventide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.

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It was also from the roof of Simon the Tanner’s house that Peter viewed three visions on the nature of his diet and the value of the Gentile races (Acts 10:9Acts 10:9
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9 Now on the morrow, as they were on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour:

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Of course in the winter, when the weather was rainy and windy, the rooftop would not be the preferred place to sleep. But Solomon suggests that it is better to live there than to share a house with someone who is constantly critical and argumentative. Again, however, it might be prudent for the misogynist to be humble at this point.

It’s unpleasant to live with a wife who nags, who feels it is her duty to engage in a daily review of her husband’s words and actions. No one wants to be under a microscope, especially in the supposed sanctuary of his home.

But be careful if my observations tempt my male readers to dredge up wife jokes. Because I have a question for you: Do you suppose it’s pleasant to live with a demanding and autocratic husband?

For this principle can be taken generically. It’s not like it’s fun to live with a man who makes fun of his wife, demeans women, and criticizes her efforts.

Just remember that in our part of the world… our roofs aren’t flat!

–by Stan Mitchell

The resurrection is central to the truth of Christianity

IN ATTACKING THE existence of God, many atheists have attacked the biblical account of the resurrection…

The Apostle Paul himself said the resurrection itself is central to the truth of Christianity. He wrote:

“But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. ( 1 Corinthians 15:13-161 Corinthians 15:13-16
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13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath Christ been raised: 14 and if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Yea, we are found false witnesses of God; because we witnessed of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised:

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ESV).

The most certain proof for anything is eyewitness testimony. In criminal trials, a conviction is almost certain if eyewitness testimony is given. While it is true that people alive today have never seen anyone raised from the dead, it is most certainly true that the resurrection of Christ has been seen by many.

In the same chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote the eyewitnesses to Christ in his resurrected body numbered more than just himself and the other apostles.

“… that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me,” ( 1 Corinthians 15:4-81 Corinthians 15:4-8
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4 and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; 5 and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; 6 then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; 7 then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also.

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ESV).

The eyewitness of Paul is of great importance because when he saw the resurrected Savior, he was 100 percent opposed to Christ. At the time Jesus appeared to Saul in Acts 9, the future apostle was traveling from town to town putting Christians in prison and killing some of them.

But, Saul saw Jesus alive after he himself knew Christ was dead. The eyewitness account was repeated to Roman rulers. Paul appeared before Felix and Festus, Roman governors, and to Herod Agrippa, one of the Idumean kings (Acts 24-26).

Eyewitness testimony does not lose its truthfulness over time. One cannot discount the testimony of so many just because one does not want to believe it. If one looks at the objective testimony of the hundreds of witnesses of Jesus in his resurrected body, one must admit God does exist and that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. John Henson at: http://www.forthright.net/christian_evidences/cases_for_the_resurrection.html

” Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:81 Corinthians 15:8
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8 and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also.

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Mike Benson

It just depends on whose hand it’s in

YOU PLACE A basketball in my hand and we can play a pickup game of basketball…

You place a basketball in Michael Jordan’s hand and you get six NBA championship rings. It just depends on whose hand it’s in…

You place a football in my hand and I can toss it to my grandson. You place a football in Peyton Manning’s hand and you get a $19 million dollar contract. It just depends on whose hand it’s in…

You place a mathematical formula in my hand and you get confusion. You place a mathematical formula in Albert Einstein’s hand and you get the laws of relativity. It just depends on whose hand it’s in…

You place a rod in my hand and I can beat an angry dog away from me. You place a rod in Moses’ hand and he will part the Red Sea. It just depends on whose hand it’s in…

You place a stone and a slingshot in my hand and you get a kid’s toy. You place a stone and a slingshot in David’s hand and you slay a giant. It just depends on whose hand it’s in…

You place two fish and five loaves of bread in my hand and you get a couple of sandwiches. You place them in Jesus’ hand and 5,000 men are fed. It just depends on whose hand it’s in…

You place some nails in my hand and you might get a birdhouse. You place nails in Jesus’ hand and you get the forgiveness of sins. It just depends on whose hand it’s in. Paul Ciniraj

“Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matthew 8:3Matthew 8:3
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3 And he stretched forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou made clean. And straightway his leprosy was cleansed.

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Mike Benson

Article on backbiting PLUS 2 BONUS files!

Get an instant overview of the Old Testament with these 12 PowerPoint slides by Tommy South.

This PowerPoint file offers a little more technical information on the Old Testament.

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TODAY’S ARTICLE:
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THE TERM BACKBITE comes from the popular sport of bearbaiting in Medival Europe…

In the sport of bearbaiting, a bear was chained to a post and a few dogs were released at a time to attack the bear for the entertainment of the crowd. Sometimes, in the contest, one of the dogs would slip behind the bear and attack him from the rear. Althought good sportsmanship outlawed biting from behind, it was common in such contests.

Over time, the expression came to refer to anyone taking an unfair advantage, such as speaking ill of a person behind his back.

As you know, the Bible condemns backbiting. Wade L. Webster, “Backbiting,” Riches From My Reading, The Searcher, May 29, 2011

“Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; the one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, him I will not endure.” Psalm 101:5Psalm 101:5
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5 Whoso privily slandereth his neighbor, him will I destroy: Him that hath a high look and a proud heart will I not suffer.

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— Mike Benson

Are you an average American?

In our ‘easy credit’ times, many people are having issues with buying things they can’t afford and ultimately failing to pay for the things they have purchased. Surveys indicate that the average American household has over $15,000 in credit card debt. That represents a good bit of buying without the ability to pay. And that leads to the rapid increase in bankruptcies being reported. One out of every 55 households in America has filed for bankruptcy.

What’s a Christian to do? There are several important things to consider:

1) Remember that everything we have is from God. We are simply stewards of His blessings, and should use all for His glory. “Let not the rich man glory in his riches, but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandest and knoweth God” (Jer. 9:24Jer. 9:24
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24 but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he hath understanding, and knoweth me, that I am Jehovah who exerciseth lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith Jehovah.

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). “Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth” (Deut. 8:18Deut. 8:18
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18 But thou shalt remember Jehovah thy God, for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth; that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as at this day.

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2) Be carefully on guard against materialism and covetousness. Jesus warned, “How hard it is for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:24Mark 10:24
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24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

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). The desire to be rich leads to temptation and destruction (1 Tim. 6:91 Tim. 6:9
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9 But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition.

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). Jesus advised that “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Lk. 12:15Lk. 12:15
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15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

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3) Prudent saving is commended in the Scriptures. “There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up” (Prov. 21:20Prov. 21:20
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20 There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise; But a foolish man swalloweth it up.

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4) Know that God expects and demands that we pay our bills. “The wicked borroweth and payeth not again” (Ps. 37:21Ps. 37:21
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21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again; But the righteous dealeth graciously, and giveth.

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). “Owe no man anything, but to love one another” (Rom. 13:8Rom. 13:8
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8 Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law.

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Wise planning and careful spending are essential, not just for financial security, but also for spiritual safety. Right priorities will keep us on track in both realms. Think!
– by Greg Gwin

These posts will resume on 2/15 – Saved By The Blood,

Not The Bell – Neal Pollard:

There is no better New Testament chapter for showing us the power of forgiveness than Romans 5. One of the concepts Paul uses to teach forgiveness is “justification” (5:1,9, 16, 18; see also “reconciled,” “saved,” and “made righteous” in this chapter). One source illustrates justification by referencing a supposedly true story centering around the ringing of the bell in London’s St. Paul Cathedral. It is said this bell saved a sentinel soldier’s life. The man was on duty at distant Windsor Castle and accused by the guard who relieved him of sleeping at his post. He was tried by court martial and condemned to death. The man denied his guilt, saying that on the night in question he heard the bells of St. Paul ring 13 times at midnight. The court did not believe he could hear the bells from so far away, but eventually the testimony of many people supported the claim of this condemned man. The mechanism on the bell malfunctioned that night. The king pardoned the soldier, who supposedly lived to be 100 years old. He was justified after he was condemned.

The word translated “justified” in Romans 5:1Romans 5:1
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5 1 Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;

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means “acquitted, put right with, and set free” (Louw & Nida, Vol. 2, Gk.-Eng. Lex. of the NT, 64). It means to be declared righteous with God (Friberg & Miller, Vol. 4: Anal. Lex. of the Gk. NT, 117). Paul mentions three things we get to enjoy, being justified by Jesus’ blood, death, and life (5:9-10).

Because we are justified by Jesus’ blood, we have peace with God (5:1), we get to stand in this grace (5:2), and we get to boast in hope (5:2), in our tribulations (5:3), and in God (5:11). In the end, because of Jesus, we shall be saved (5:9-10).

We deserve the wrath of God (5:9), spiritual death (5:12), and condemnation (5:16). Unlike the fortunate soldier, we could not claim innocence (5:12,19). Our pardon is the result of Jesus’ innocence, but because of that we can lay claim to “eternal life” (5:21). Thank God for the saving blood of His Son.

I’m not going to write him any paperwork for a ticket or even a warning

Just What He Needed

Rodney Gibson was speeding down a busy highway in Bloomington, Indiana in his truck earlier this month, but he didn’t realize it. His mind was focused on something else.

Indiana State Police Sgt.T odd Durnil saw that Gibson was speeding, so he pulled him over. It didn’t take Officer Durnil long to see that Gibson was very upset – not about the traffic stop, but about some other thing going on in his life.

Gibson explained with tears in his eyes that his daughter was recently told the breast cancer she’d been battling for six years had metastasized and that she likely wasn’t going to make it. He had been agonizing over that news and didn’t realize how fast he was driving.

On his way back to his patrol car, Durnil said his first thought was that Gibson really needed prayers. He planned to tell his family and church to pray for Gibson.

“I also thought, this man already has enough. I’m not going to write him any paperwork for a ticket or even a warning,” he said. “When I walked back to his truck, I explained everything. He still seemed agitated, but not as bad, and he apologized, saying, ‘I’m sorry. I usually don’t act this way; I’ve just been going through a lot.’”

Durnil then asked Gibson if there was anything else if he could do for him and Gibson asked, “Do you know how to pray?”

“Here I was thinking this man needs prayer, and now he’s asking me for a prayer,” Durnil said. “The good Lord put us together for a purpose.”

Durnil then went over to the right side of the semi, took his hat off, knelt down, took Gibson’s hand and said a prayer. Both the men had tears in their eyes, Durnil said. *

Gibson deserved a ticket for speeding. But what he needed was someone with compassion who would pray with him. Sgt. Durnil gave him what he needed, not what he deserved.

Having transgressed the law of God, each of us DESERVES the punishment for sin: death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23Romans 6:23
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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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But what we NEED is forgiveness and hope. What we NEED is the grace of God.

God loves us so much that despite the fact that we sin and continue to fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23Romans 3:23
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23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

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), He gave His One and Only Son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16John 3:16
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16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

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). Through His atoning sacrifice, we can be forgiven of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23Romans 6:23
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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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God will forgive and give eternal life to those who place their 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 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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), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of their 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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). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:71 John 1:7
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7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

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Because of His great love for us, God longs to give us what we need (GRACE) instead of what we deserve (PUNISHMENT).

Won’t YOU accept His offer on His terms?

* From “Indiana Cop Brings Speeding Driver to Tears With Prayer Rather Than Ticket” by AVIANNE TAN, January 7, 2016, Good Morning America and “The Policeman Who Offered Prayer Instead of Punishment” by Brett Petrillo in Daily Bread (1/18/16).

David A. Sargent

It is all about me

“I have taken off my robe; how can I put it on again? I have washed my feet; how can I defile them?” (Song of Solomon 5:3 NKJV).

I am continually impressed with the concern of Christian brothers and sisters for my welfare while I am with them in Bangladesh and Nepal. It is normal for them to give me their best room and furniture for my stay, to feed me at a higher standard than that to which their family is accustomed, and to show every kindness and courtesy in providing whatever it may seem that I need. They do this without being asked, and even sometimes when I have requested that they not do so much.

I remember one occasion when I stumbled and fell stepping off a porch onto an unsteady and uneven set of rock steps. Almost before I could get back on my feet a brother was taking apart the steps and rebuilding them so I would not fall again. It was not even his house.

Unfortunately, that is not the norm everywhere in our relations with one another. The experience cited above from the Song of Solomon is perhaps more typical. The heroine of the story (called in the NKJV “The Shulamite”) tells of a night when her new husband came in late. She had already retired and resented having her sleep interrupted. “I have already washed my feet and dressed for the evening – why must I get up and undo all of that?” Doesn’t that sound familiar?  Predictably, her reluctance to greet him created a strain in the marriage.

So often it is only our own need or convenience that we consider important. “It is all about me.” Not only is this un-Christian and un-Biblical, it is counter- productive. It is precisely this attitude which Jesus targeted when he promised, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25Matthew 16:25
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25 For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.

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It is not only by dying that one may lose his life. It is also by renouncing personal selfishness in favor of doing for others first (see Philippians 2:2-4Philippians 2:2-4
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2 make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; 3  doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; 4 not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.

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). The more we seek to gain for ourselves at the expense or to the neglect of others, the less we will have. That is what the Bible teaches, unequivocally, for everyone.

In the days of Haggai, the people of Judah had put their own affairs first, building houses for themselves while neglecting the rebuilding of the Temple, which was their stated purpose for returning from Babylon (Haggai 1:4Haggai 1:4
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4 Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your ceiled houses, while this house lieth waste?

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). As a result the Lord spoke:

“You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:6Haggai 1:6
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6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.

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By seeking only what was important to themselves and neglecting those things for which God had sent them back from captivity, they had become impoverished.

“You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away” (Haggai 1:9Haggai 1:9
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9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith Jehovah of hosts. Because of my house that lieth waste, while ye run every man to his own house.

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The solution to their need was simple. Trust the Lord and put him first, and he would assure them of blessing. “Consider now from this day forward . . .
from this day I will bless you” (Haggai 2:18-19Haggai 2:18-19
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18 Consider, I pray you, from this day and backward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, since the day that the foundation of Jehovah's temple was laid, consider it. 19 Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, the vine, and the fig-tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive-tree have not brought forth; from this day will I bless you.

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). Once they had resumed work on the temple, God removed the famine and drought and gave them prosperity.

So Jesus taught, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33Matthew 6:33
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33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

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The path to blessing and prosperity is not selfishness, it is service, accompanied by faith.

by Michael E. Brooks

Folks do not need to be “talked into baptism.”

HOW MANY OF us have heard folks say, “They just won’t be baptized…?”

“What can we do to persuade them to be baptized?” These statements seem to overlook the greatest challenge of salvation for most folks. Have you ever seen one who believed in the Lord (John 8:24John 8:24
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24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

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), was not ashamed, but willing to confess Him before others, (Matthew 10:32-22Matthew 10:32-22
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; John 12:42-43John 12:42-43
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42 Nevertheless even of the rulers many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43 for they loved the glory that is of men more than the glory that is of God.

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) had repented of their sins (Luke 13:3Luke 13:3
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3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

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, Acts 26:20Acts 26:20
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20 but declared both to them of Damascus first and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judaea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance.

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, 2 Corinthians 7:102 Corinthians 7:10
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10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, a repentance which bringeth no regret: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

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) and not be baptized? I’m sure there are exceptions, but the general rule in Acts is that penitent believers asked to be baptized.

Repentance is a change which begins in the mind which changes lives. In Acts 19 the city of Ephesus, the home of the Temple of Diana and capitol of worship to this goddess, was presented with the Gospel of Jesus. For the pagans to become Christians, what changes did “repentance” demand? In verse 19 they brought their books of magic into one pile and burned them. The value was 50,000 pieces of silver. This was a considerably large sum of money. Books were valuable passions and very expensive in those days. Remember Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15Matthew 26:15
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15 and said, What are ye willing to give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they weighed unto him thirty pieces of silver.

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), which brings their sacrifice of burning their books into perspective. Instead of selling them and advocating false doctrine, the repentance of the Ephesians led them to suffer financial loss. A second sign of their repentance was the fear their actions brought upon Demetrius the silversmith. He was in the business of selling shrines of the goddess Diana. He realized penitent Christians changed their behavior. Their change in behavior would mean they would no longer buy his shrines. The more Christianity spread (the more people repented) the less business he would have! He started a riot, hoping to defeat Christianity. Some are never willing to repent, others give up all!

Jonathan Winchester is a fine young missionary we worked with in El Salvador. He wrote me this note:

“We had some good and sad results. The area where we worked was one of the poorest and most dangerous in Ica, Peru. One woman had decided to be baptized, and had changed into the baptismal robe, but then decided that she could not. She knew that repentance was necessary. She told us that her only way of providing for her children was to go out and steal people’s wallets, and she knew that she was not going to stop.”

Should she have been advised to be baptized anyway? What would God say? “Repent or perish” (Luke 13:3Luke 13:3
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3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

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). Folks do not need to be “talked into baptism.” What folks need is to be taught the doctrine of Christ and see if they are ready to repent! Penitent believers have always responded by saying, “What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36Acts 8:36
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36 And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

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). David Shannon

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission 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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Mike Benson

How compassionate are we with the afflicted?

WHY DOES GOD permit imperfection in His world…?

Why are babies allowed to be born handicapped? Why do limbs not move, eyes not see, mouths not speak, and ears not hear? Skeptics and Christians alike struggle with the answers to such questions. How can a perfect God allow such imperfection in His creation?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers to human suffering, but I do know there are some things that help me deal with such difficult questions. One such aid comes from a change in perspective. What if the perfection God is looking for is in us, not the imperfect bodies of people? What if the greater perfection God desires is in our reaction to people who are imperfect?

How compassionate are we with the afflicted? How patient and understanding are we with their trials? Do they have too many troubles to make getting involved with them worthwhile? Are we inconvenienced and resentful of their demands on our time and lifestyle? Are we annoyed at their presence or even worse, embarrassed by them?

Just maybe the perfection God is looking for is in our Christ-like response to imperfect people. Instead of allowing people born with physical disabilities to shake our faith in God, should we not rather allow them to challenge us to reach toward Christ-like perfection in our response to these people?

While Jesus walked this earth, He was God in the flesh (John 1:1,14John 1:1,14
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The Gospel According to St. John 1 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us , full of grace and truth.

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). He came in contact with people who were burdened by imperfect bodies. In fact, multitudes of people with physical disabilities flocked to Him because they knew He was one who had compassion upon them. On one occasion, a leper came to Jesus for help (Mark 1:41Mark 1:41
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41 And being moved with compassion, he stretched forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou made clean.

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). The text says that Jesus had compassion on him and healed him. But not only did Jesus heal him; He also reached out and touched him! I wonder how long it had been since anyone had touched this leper? This passage gives us a glimpse into the heart of Jesus. He wasn’t one who stood at arm’s distance from the suffering, but rather touched their lives.

Friends, from God’s perspective, the imperfection in this world may not be in the physically and mentally disabled, but in a healthy person’s uncompassionate response to these individuals. Steve Higginbotham

“And Jesus, moved with compassion, put out His Hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.'” Mark 1:41Mark 1:41
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41 And being moved with compassion, he stretched forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou made clean.

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Mike Benson