Archives for : October2016

Acts 7:26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?

This free daily devotional is scheduled to resume on November 7th.

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Abraham said the same to Lot when there was strife between their herdsmen: “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren” (Genesis 13:8Genesis 13:8
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8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we are brethren.

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The address which Moses here makes to the two Hebrews who were fighting each other and Abraham to his nephew Lot should be applied to all contending brethren: “Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?

Generally, the word “brothers” is used to indicate individuals who have the same parents. We also speak of brothers in the faith, since we share the same faith. Our Lord says: “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:50Matthew 12:50
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50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.

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). In this one statement, our Lord places all who are of the same faith into one family. Paul concurred and wrote in agreement with the Lord that we should treat the aged men as fathers, the aged women as mothers, the younger men as brothers and the younger women as sisters (1 Timothy 5:1-21 Timothy 5:1-2
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5 1 Rebuke not an elder, but exhort him as a father; the younger men as brethren: 2 the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, in all purity.

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). We are one family in the Lord.

In Genesis chapter 4, we are introduced to the first pair of brothers and we see the elder killing the younger and ever since that time, brothers (sisters included) have been at odds with each other (Genesis 4:1-8Genesis 4:1-8
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4 1 And the man knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man with the help of Jehovah. 2 And again she bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto Jehovah. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And Jehovah had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And Jehovah said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up? and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth at the door: and unto thee shall be its desire, but do thou rule over it. 8 And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

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Why? There are many reasons. But it all boils down to this three letter word called “EGO.” “EGO is a three letter word that kills a twelve letter word called RELATIONSHIP.”

James wrote: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1James 4:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 1 Whence come wars and whence come fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your pleasures that war in your members?

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Selfishness, that’s what James is saying. Selfishness is ego in action. It is all about self-pleasing. But a harmonious relationship thinks of others. “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4Philippians 2:4
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4 not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.

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Whether it is between husband and wife, among siblings and friends, or in church, loving and respecting the other individual is the first step toward a peaceful relationship. It takes “two to tango” and likewise, it takes two to maintain a harmonious relationship. As long as there are two persons in the same room, there will be conflicts. Therefore, how should the Christian resolve this conflict?

  1. Recognise that we are brethren. We are the family of God. Family will have differences among its members; but family sticks together. The words of Abraham should always ring in our minds when we are having conflicts with each other: “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee … for we be brethren” (Genesis 13:8Genesis 13:8
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    8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we are brethren.

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  1. Recognize we are Christians. How should a Christian conduct his life? With love, of course! Our Lord says: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35John 13:35
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    35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

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    ). The scripture says: “He who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:211 John 4:21
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    21 And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.

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    ). A Christian who says he loves God but hates his brother is a liar (1 John 4:201 John 4:20
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    20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen.

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A loving relationship is one that forgives, is tolerant, patient, kind, humble, not selfish, and does not hold any resentments (1 Corinthians 13:4-81 Corinthians 13:4-8
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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. 8 Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away.

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). Paul admonishes: “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another,” (Romans 14:19Romans 14:19
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19 So then let us follow after things which make for peace, and things whereby we may edify one another.

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The scripture says: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18Romans 12:18
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18 If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.

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). It means we are to do our best to live peaceably with all men. Sometimes it cannot be done but it should be because of the other party and not us; the Christian should desire peace with all men, especially our brethren.

Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?” Instead of be wrong one to another, let us seek to be right with one another: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1Psalm 133:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

A Song of Ascents; of David. 133 1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!

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Jimmy Lau

Psa 119:97Psa 119:97
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

97 Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

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  Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

Acts 7:26Acts 7:26
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

26 And the day following he appeared unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?

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And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?' data-link='http://www.abiblecommentary.com/blog/2016/10/21/acts-726-and-the-next-day-he-shewed-himself-unto-them-as-they-strove-and-would-have-set-them-at-one-again-saying-sirs-ye-are-brethren-why-do-ye-wrong-one-to-another/' data-summary=''>

Spacecraft Friendship 7

ON FEBRUARY 20, 1962, at 9:47 A.M., the spacecraft Friendship 7 rose on a pillar of fire, piloted by lone astronaut John Glenn…

 

Leaving the coast of Florida far behind, the space capsule orbited the earth three times, traveling 81,000 miles in less than four hours.  As the craft began its descent from space, mission controllers in Houston received a warning signal:  A sensor indicated that the capsule’s heat shield was in danger of detaching.  If the heat shield came loose during re-entry, the capsule would burn like a meteor–and John Glenn would die.

 

There was no way to fix the problem in space.  The capsule was already approaching the outer fringe of the atmosphere.  As the tiny spacecraft fell toward Earth, the heat shield glowed red-hot–then white hot.  Soon, a hot cloud of ionized gas particles called plasma surrounded the capsule.  Because radio waves cannot penetrate plasma, the spacecraft experienced a total communications blackout–what astronauts and mission controllers call a “black hole” (not to be confused with the black holes that form in space when a star collapses).

 

The minutes crawled by and the suspense mounted in the Houston control room.  NASA engineers felt totally helpless.  Finally, after five minutes of silence, mission controllers heard Glenn’s voice crackling over the radio: “Friendship 7 to Houston–“

 

Shouts of joy shook the control room.  John Glenn was coming home.  

 

It turned out that the warning signal had come from a faulty sensor.  Although neither Glenn nor the mission controllers knew it at the time, the heat shield was absolutely firm and reliable.  The fears for John Glenn’s safety during this black hole experience were unfounded.

 

If you’ve ever been through a Joseph Pit experience (cf. Genesis 37), you probably know what a communications “black hole” feels like.  While you are in the pit of adversity, you feel that your world is collapsing, that your life is out of control–and that God is silent.  You call out to Him and there is no answer.  The silence of a black-hole is deafening.  You feel isolated and alone.  You question God’s love, His care for you, and even His existence.

 

But even when it seems that God is distant and silent, when you feel you are in a black hole of isolation and loneliness, your “heart shield” is still there, firm and reliable.  In your black hole experience, God is teaching you to go deeper into your relationship with Him.  You may think that your life is out of control and burning like a meteor, but in reality God, your heat shield, still protects you from the fiery forces that surround you.  O. Hillman, “The Black Hole,” The Upside of Adversity, 45-46

 

“But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.”  Psalm 3.3

–Mike Benson

Shelter in the Storm

A young man named Gus was taking a walk through the English countryside one day in 1753 when a sudden storm swept across the landscape. Running for cover, he spotted a wide rock formation with an opening where he sought shelter until the storm passed. He had been fortunate to find this hiding-place so quickly, and he began to muse on the connection between his shelter and God’s help in life’s storms.

And as he contemplated this scenario, the words for a poem began to form in his mind, but he had no paper on which to write them. Looking down on the floor of the cave-like structure, he saw a playing card — considered a sinful thing by the young cleric. Nevertheless, he picked it up and began to formulate his thoughts and write them onto the card.*

The life of the writer of those words, Augustus Toplady, was cut short by tuberculosis, and on August 11, 1778st 11, 1778
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Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja!

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he passed from this life. He was buried in Tottenham Court Chapel in London. A “memorial stone” was erected in his memory. And on this stone was inscribed the words that he had jotted down on a playing card some years before;

Rock of ages, cleft for me,

Let me hide myself in Thee;

Let the water and the blood,

From Thy riven side which flowed,

Be of sin the double cure,

Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

These words are part of a poem that has become a beloved Christian hymn: “Rock of Ages.”  Toplady took his experience of finding shelter in a storm and made application to the Shelter that provides salvation from sin…

Just as Gus found shelter under a rock formation, even so you and I may find “shelter” (forgiveness and life) from the “storm of sin” in the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ.

Jesus endured God’s wrath (storm) against sin on our behalf by dying on the cross.  He paid the price for our redemption (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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).  Through Him, we receive the “double cure”: through His blood we are cleansed from the guilt and dominion of sin.

We find shelter in the Rock of Ages when we: place our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31Acts 16:30-31
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30 and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.

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

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), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our 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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; Galatians 3:26-27Galatians 3:26-27
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26 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

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“From the end of the earth will I cry unto You, When my heart is overwhelmed:

Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”

Psalm 61:2Psalm 61:2
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2 From the end of the earth will I call unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

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Won’t YOU find shelter in the Rock of Ages by trusting and obeying Him today?

Mike Eddlemon and David A. Sargent

* Excerpt from This England Magazine – 1988 Winter Issue

Three Surprises in Heaven

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'” (Matthew 7:21,22Matthew 7:21,22
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21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works?

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, ESV).

Not everyone will make it to heaven. What is more, not everyone who looks and sounds religious will make it to heaven. Many whom we consider “Christian” may not make it; many who consider themselves Christians may not make it. Don’t you hear surprise in the voices of those who respond, “Lord, Lord, did we not …”

They didn’t make it, and they didn’t see that coming!

C.S. Lewis once declared that there would be three surprises in heaven: “Who’s there; who’s not; and the fact that you’re there.”

There may be some people I was not impressed by who quietly lived their Christianity, and who made it to heaven. Certainly God knew more about their hearts’ condition than I. There may be some who impressed me, who made a fine show of their religion who are not there; God knew the condition of their hearts, too. And if I am there, I can at least reflect on the truth that it was God’s grace that allowed me in.

So the lesson to learn here is, if you feel confident of your being accepted into heaven … you might be one of those who do not. In Jesus’ declaration there were some who had presumed upon God. They would “prophesy,”

“cast out demons,” “do many works” in Christ’s name.  They looked like ducks, walked like ducks, but they couldn’t swim!

Please note the criterion for acceptance: “The one who does the will of (the) father in heaven.” When God makes his requirements clear, we need to comply. When the Lord directs, we need to follow.

Make sure that when you get to heaven, there will only be two surprises. Who’s there, and who’s not. Make sure you are there.

— by Stan Mitchell

Act 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

Peter was preaching Christ at a place known as Solomon Porch. He told the Jews that it was because of ignorance that they crucified Jesus Christ, their Messiah. But now that they had come to know Jesus as the Christ, he commanded them to repent and be converted that their sins might be blotted out.

Repentance means a change of mind. Now that they are convinced that Christ is the Messiah, let their minds be changed, and their hearts remorse for crucifying Him. Then, let them be converted. To convert means to turn back. It is to turn about from a heart of unbelief to belief.

True repentance involves a change of mind that follows by a change of action (conversion). There is a false sorrow for sin that is more of a sorrow for the consequences of the sin, like a thief that is not sorry that he stole, but that he got caught and is now in jail. A husband may be sorry that he has hurt his wife and children but still chooses to leave them for another woman. But repentance means the thief and the cheating husband realize they have done wrong and make up their minds not to do it again. Conversion means they stop their sinful deeds.

True repentance will always bring about true conversion. And true conversion will bring about a change of life! The parable of the prodigal son involves true repentance and conversion. The prodigal son came to himself (REPENTANCE) and made a complete turn-around and return to his father (CONVERSION).

Conversion involves two things:

1) TURNING FROM

2) TURNING UNTO

The prodigal son TURNED FROM his error of ways and TURNED UNTO the path of righteousness. When a person changes his direction, he must turn away FROM the way he was going, and he must turn UNTO a new direction. A driver who finds that he has made a wrong turn (go the wrong way) will need to turn back (go the right way). He has to TURN FROM the wrong way and TURN UNTO the right way.

James says that if a Christian brother should err from the truth (GO THE WRONG WAY), then he needs to BE CONVERTED (GO THE RIGHT WAY) (James 5:19James 5:19
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19 My brethren, if any among you err from the truth, and one convert him;

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Unfortunately, there are Christians who remain unconverted. They call themselves Christians, but their lifestyles are no different from those of unbelievers. The Christians at Corinth were guilty of behaving like the people of this world and Paul wrote of them: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11 Corinthians 3:1
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3 1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ.

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The meaning of “carnal” is “belonging to the flesh.” The scripture gives some descriptions of the works of the flesh: “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies,” (Galatians 5:19-21Galatians 5:19-21
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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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, ESV).

Paul says the Christian who is truly converted (spiritual) will put to death those things and put on Christ (Colossians 3:5-10Colossians 3:5-10
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5 Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; 6 for which things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience: 7 wherein ye also once walked, when ye lived in these things; 8 but now do ye also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth: 9 lie not one to another; seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings, 10 and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him:

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). They have to TURN FROM a life that is still living in sin and TURN UNTO Christ. They have to PUT OFF the fleshly deeds and PUT ON the new man which is created after the image of Christ (Colossians 3:10Colossians 3:10
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10 and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him:

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True conversion requires a complete change and not a cosmetic touch up. It is to walk in newness of life Romans (6:4). It is a new life in Christ and hence, it is called a rebirth (John 3:3-5John 3:3-5
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3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 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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). A Christian who is truly converted is born again. It means a complete change. It is a transformation (Romans 12:2Romans 12:2
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2 And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

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). A caterpillar that has been transformed into a beautiful butterfly has undergone a complete change.

Have you been converted? Have you put on the new man? Are you walking in newness of life? Let us be truly converted and walk like Christ: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:22-24Galatians 5:22-24
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22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 meekness, self-control; against such there is no law. 24 And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof.

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Have you crucified the flesh with its passions and desires?

Jimmy Lau

Psa 119:97Psa 119:97
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

97 Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

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  Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

Act 3:19Act 3:19
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19 Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord;

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Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.' data-link='http://www.abiblecommentary.com/blog/2016/10/17/act-319-repent-ye-therefore-and-be-converted-that-your-sins-may-be-blotted-out-when-the-times-of-refreshing-shall-come-from-the-presence-of-the-lord/' data-summary=''>

Bangladesh is one of, if not the, most densely populated nation on earth.

“When Jesus heard it, he departed from there

by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But

when the multitudes heard it they followed

him by foot from the cities” (Matthew 14:13Matthew 14:13
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13 Now when Jesus heard it, he withdrew from thence in a boat, to a desert place apart: and when the multitudes heard thereof, they followed him on foot from the cities.

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NKJV).

It is no secret that cultures in Asia and America are vastly different. I am often asked, “What is the greatest cultural shock which you have encountered?” My usual answer is, “The lack of privacy.”

Bangladesh is one of, if not the, most densely populated nation on earth. It’s land area is about the same as that of the state of Iowa. In that limited space lives 165,000,000es 165,000,000
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Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja! Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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people — approximately half the population of the United states. There is literally nowhere one may go that is without people.

And consequently there is no concept of “personal space.” Everything is done in view of others.

Americans are relatively scarce in Bangladesh, therefore we stand out in any crowd or context. The people have great curiosity about us, and no shyness or reluctance when it comes to staring or pointing.

Have you ever sat alone in a car with 50 to 100 people crowded around you, touching the windows and sides of the car, staring at you for 20 or 30 minutes? It is an experience one would not normally have in the U.S. This is merely one of many such instances, all of which cause considerable uneasiness to one unaccustomed to them.

Most of us have a need for privacy, at least occasionally. Even Jesus sometimes sought solitude, either to teach small groups, or to meditate and pray.  This in no way contradicted his earthly mission, “to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10Luke 19:10
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10 For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.

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Sometimes the desire for privacy may stem from less than pure motives. In these instances, secrecy is the true goal. But not all who seek to be alone do so for the sake of wrongdoing.

The psalmist records the words of God exhorting mankind, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10Psalm 46:10
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10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

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). Though stillness and solitude are not synonymous, it is difficult to meditate deeply when in the company of others.

Just as Jesus drew apart to pray (Mark 6:46Mark 6:46
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46 And after he had taken leave of them, he departed into the mountain to pray.

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), so we find a special opportunity for communion with God when alone.

Though few of us desire to be always in the midst of a large crowd of strangers, it is never-the-less true that total solitude is also uncomfortable, at least for very long.

Most humans want some degree of companionship, most of the time. The occasional hermit is recognized as abnormal, socially unbalanced.

But those with a genuine relationship with God realize that they are never truly alone. The company of other humans may be denied them for a time, but there is always One who is with them.

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor

life, nor angels nor principalities nor

powers, nor things present nor things to

come, nor height nor depth, nor any other

created thing, shall be able to separate us

from the love of God which is in Christ

Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39Romans 8:38-39
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Having just enough, but not too much, company is a delicate balance, hard if not impossible to always achieve. But reliance upon God to protect us from the crowd while always providing fellowship is the correct solution.

“If God is for us, who can be against us”

(Romans 8:31Romans 8:31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

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by Michael E. Brooks

I think your preaching is spectacular

I want to share with you an email that someone sent me this week. Here is what it said:

“Dear Steve, Hi, my name is Hanna ______. I am 13 years old, and I am a member at the ___________ . I am sending this email today to you to tell what an inspiration you are to me. Every night before I go to sleep, I listen to many audio devotionals of yours, or a sermon. I would just like to tell you that I think your preaching is spectacular, and you have helped me to better understand the Lord’s wonderful word. You have taught me many lessons, and I am so glad we have people out in this world teaching God’s word. Someday I hope I will get to hear you preach in person, and meet you! Thank you for everything.”

Wow! What an email! This one goes in my files. And did you notice? It’s from a 13 year-old. Friends, the power of life and death are in our words (Proverbs 18:21Proverbs 18:21
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21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue; And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

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). Don’t tell me you’re too old, too young, too busy, or too untalented to positively impact another person’s life. How long do you think it took this young lady to write this note? How much good will, encouragement, and motivation do you think she created by her short note?

May I challenge you to be led by this young lady and when you sit down at your computer tomorrow morning, or why not every morning, take just a couple minutes to make a difference in someone else’s life?

Steve Higginbotham

Woe to evil shepherds

“‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and

scatter the sheep of my pastures’ says the

Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord God of

Israel against the shepherds who feed my

people: ‘You have scattered my flock, driven

them away, and not attended to them. Behold,

I will attend to you for the evil of your

doings,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:1-2Jeremiah 23:1-2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 1 Woe unto the shepherds that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith Jehovah. 2 Therefore thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, against the shepherds that feed my people: Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them; behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith Jehovah.

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NKJV).

Corruption in government is an ancient and universal problem. A modern proverb has it, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

In other words, give almost any human the ability to take advantage of a position for his own benefit and he will.

The prophets of Israel delivered God’s message of outraged anger against the oppression of the poor and needy by those in positions of power.

“Woe to those who devise iniquity, and work

out evil on their beds! At morning light

they practice it, because it is in the power

of their hand. They covet fields and take

them by violence, also houses, and seize

them. So they oppress a man and his house, a

man and his inheritance” (Micah 2:1-2Micah 2:1-2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 1 Woe to them that devise iniquity and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. 2 And they covet fields, and seize them; and houses, and take them away: and they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.

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Their thefts and oppression was not motivated by hunger or even just greed alone. They had the opportunity, therefore they took advantage of it. Such is the temptation of power.

It seems sometimes that governments throughout the world are in competition for the title of “World’s Most Corrupt.” Bribery and injustice permeate almost all bureaucracies. The primary motive for higher office seems to be personal profit. The poor and unfranchised seem to be mere helpless victims.

The only apparent solution to this particular form of corruption would seem to be the limitation or removal of all such power. If no one had the position to abuse, less harm could be done.

This may be the best argument for a purely democratic form of government. If government is truly of the people, then power rests in the full population, not any particular person or group.

But experience teaches that even this ideal situation cannot be, or at least has never been, sustained. A majority learns to misuse the power of numbers and oppresses minorities.

Elected representatives betray their constituents and act for themselves, not for those whom they represent.

Slowly and steadily power reverts to a few and becomes abused.

Christianity offers a better way. That is to recognize that “There is no authority except from God” (Romans 13:1Romans 13:1
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13 1 Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God.

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We must submit to his power alone, looking to him for guidance and leadership.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the

mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in

due time” (1 Peter 5:61 Peter 5:6
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6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time;

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It is the denial, or abrogation of power, that is the surest path to incorruptibility. In Christ’s Church that is exemplified in what is called “Servant Leadership.”

“You know that those who are considered

rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them,

and their great ones exercise authority over

them. Yet it shall not be so among you, but

whoever desires to become great among you

shall be your servant” (Mark 10:42-43Mark 10:42-43
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

42 And Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they who are accounted to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not so among you: but whosoever would become great among you, shall be your minister;

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Paul expressed it like this,

“Let nothing be done through selfish

ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of

mind let each esteem others better than

himself. Let each of you look out not only

for his own interests, but also for the

interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4Philippians 2:3-4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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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A hopeless and unrealistic ideal? In human governments where God is not honored, of course. But in His kingdom it is how it must be. God offers us a better realm. Let us seek it eagerly.

Michael Brooks

 

 

Christians Make Better Parents

Do you believe it? How about statistics to back it up? Dr. Rodney Stark may not claim to be a Christian (I don’t know his religious convictions) but it is refreshing to see/hear an academic who is at least sympathetic to Christians and their convictions. He taught comparative religions at the University of Washington but has moved to Baylor. In  2012, he published a book entitled America’s Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists. Of course, when you talk about the influence of religion in America, it is almost exclusively Christianity. Judaism and Islam are not really significant enough to have had a long-term impact on American life, although they have contributed.

Now, to the idea of parenthood and, specifically, Christian parenthood. College students who are religious, feel closer to their parents. In a twenty-four year study, based on studies of moms and children, scholars at Penn State and the University of Michigan had been able to document the effects of religion on childhood.

If Mom goes to worship more frequently, she is more likely to have a close relationship with her child. Yet, more important than frequency of worship, the importance Mom places on religion has a profound impact on their relationship. If Mom and Child attends worship together, there is an even greater effect on the relationship! If the child does not attend, the relationship is weaker even if Mom attends.

If you through Dad into the mix, it is even better. If Dad attends more frequently, he is more likely to hug and praise Kiddo. That’s not what you expect from the way Christian Dads are portrayed in the media and on TV. In fact, religious dads are more involved in their children’s lives than non-religious dads.

Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas has studied the same impact. Teenagers are more satisfied with their family, among those who attend worship. Teenagers are more satisfied with their family, when their parents put a greater emphasis on religion. Satisfaction with family is higher among “conservative Protestants.” If teenagers attend worship with their parents, they are even more satisfied with their family. The study holds true for both guys and girls.

In Regnerus’s study, teenagers were more satisfied with their family when they were restricted relative to curfews on weekends, how much TV to watch, what they wear & eat, and other such items. Religious parents are more strict on their teens in these areas and such teens reveal more satisfaction with their parents.

Religious parents are more likely to spank their children but they are less likely to yell and shout at their children.  All in all, religious (read: Christian) parents have closer relationships with their children.

In the last chapter, Dr. Stark puts a dollar amount on his studies. Religious parents are more likely to homeschool and with 1.3 million children being homeschooled in the U. S., they save the taxpayer $630 million each year! (Although it would be nice to receive vouchers – or keep my own tax money – to help defray the cost of homeschooling!)

Families are the way God designed society. As we move away from a family-based culture, we will suffer the consequences.

“Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart” (Proverbs 29:17Proverbs 29:17
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17 Correct thy son, and he will give thee rest; Yea, he will give delight unto thy soul.

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– Paul Holland

They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around.

“A woman by the name of Eunice Pike worked with the Mazatec Indians in southwestern Mexico for over forty years. During her time there she made some very interesting observations. For instance, these people very rarely ever wished someone well. They are also very hesitant to teach one another. If asked, ‘Who taught you to bake bread?’ the village baker might answer, ‘I just know,’ meaning he has acquired the knowledge without anyone’s help. Eunice said this odd behavior stems from the Indian’s concept of limited good.’ They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around. To teach another means you might drain yourself of knowledge. To love a second child means you have to love the first child less. To wish someone well–‘Have a good day’–means you have just given away some of your own happiness, which cannot be reacquired” (Bernie May, “Learning to Trust,” Multnomah Press, 1985).

At first glance this attitude is shocking, but actually the mindset of the Mazatec Indians is not so different from today’s culture. While it’s not true for everyone, many in our society are completely engulfed with selfish, “me first” type attitudes. Nearly everything is done for self. Helping, teaching, being kind, and showing generosity to others is becoming increasingly uncommon. In fact, often times doing such things is even viewed as a hindrance and annoyance. Many don’t want to help a friend move because it’s tiresome and difficult. Some don’t want to assist an elderly person because it’s inconvenient. People rarely want to go the extra mile because it means less time “to do what I want.” It seems people think if they have to do something for others it will become such an annoyance and a hindrance that they will, therefore, become less happy. It’s almost as if some think they are giving away their own happiness with such acts. What an incredibly sad attitude.

God has always called for Christians to be different, especially in our attitude towards others. God told the church in Ephesus, “… Help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Christ even went so far as to say that we should be loving, giving, and kind to our enemies (Matthew 5:38-42Matthew 5:38-42
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38 Ye have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 but I say unto you, resist not him that is evil: but whosoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man would go to law with thee, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

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)! In a world characterized by selfishness, how better to be a light in the darkness than to show and attitude of selflessness (Matthew 5:14Matthew 5:14
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14 Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.

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We aren’t “giving away our happiness” by being kind to others. In fact, as many have attested to from their own experiences, the more we give and show kindness, the happier we become. Not only does being kind and loving improve our quality of life, but our contrasting example could also bring others to Christ. Do we want to become happier in this life? The key lies in showing service, kindness, and love to others (Matthew 23:11Matthew 23:11
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11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

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; Ephesians 4:32; 1Ephesians 4:32; 1
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32 and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you. The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians 1 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints that are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 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: 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: 5 having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: 7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 making known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him 10 unto a dispensation of the fulness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth; in him, I say, 11 in whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his will; 12 to the end that we should be unto the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ: 13 in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation,—in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of God's own possession, unto the praise of his glory. 15 For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and the love which ye show toward all the saints, 16 cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; 18 having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 and what the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might 20 which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 and he put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

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John 4:7-11John 4:7-11
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7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 For his disciples were gone away into the city to buy food. 9 The Samaritan woman therefore saith unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a Samaritan woman? 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: whence then hast thou that living water?

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–Brett Petrillo

Sermon on Ecclesiastes 3 – The True, Basic Meaning

Sermon on Ecclesiastes 3

INTRODUCTION:

A. In Solomon’s effort to understand the “true meaning to life,” he sees that good times and bad times come to all, and this repeats itself in each coming generation.

1. This process repeats itself with such certainty that Solomon concludes – Ecclesiastes 3:15Ecclesiastes 3:15
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15 That which is hath been long ago; and that which is to be hath long ago been: and God seeketh again that which is passed away.

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2. The wise man will understand this, and prepare himself for the ups and downs in life

B. Solomon is going to remind us in Ecclesiastes 3 that there are things beyond our control

1. For example, no matter how rich and power one may be, he can not prevent sorrow, sickness and death

2. Solomon is going to help us to see that true comfort and happiness will only come by placing our trust in God

3. Man should make the best of life while seizing the opportunities God offers

C. In our text of study for this lesson (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
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3 1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. 9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth? 10 I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith. 11 He hath made everything beautiful in its time: also he hath set eternity in their heart, yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done from the beginning even to the end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for them, than to rejoice, and to do good so long as they live. 13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy good in all his labor, is the gift of God. 14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it; and God hath done it, that men should fear before him. 15 That which is hath been long ago; and that which is to be hath long ago been: and God seeketh again that which is passed away.

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), we will see Solomon contemplating the providence of God

DISCUSSION:

A. TIMES AND SEASONS APPOINTED BY GOD

1. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
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3 1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

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2. All the items Solomon has mentioned here we will come to know if we live long enough

a. Solomon is confirming his assertion made in chapter 2, that wealth, wisdom and success are not really in man’s hands

b. Notice how James puts it – James 4:13-16James 4:13-16
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13 Come now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into this city, and spend a year there, and trade, and get gain: 14 whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. What is your life? For ye are a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall both live, and do this or that. 16 But now ye glory in your vauntings: all such glorying is evil.

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3. There is a time:

a. To be born and die

1) Our birth is outside our control, and concerning death -we cannot prevent it – 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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2) The contrast is that birth and death each have their appointed seasons which comes to past without man’s interference

b. To plant and pluck up that which is planted

1) Any farmer can attest to the truth of this statement

2) Food for survival depends on knowing when to do either

3) There is a spiritual application:

a) Luke 8:11-15Luke 8:11-15
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11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 And those by the way side are they that have heard; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And those on the rock are they who, when they have heard, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among the thorns, these are they that have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 And that in the good ground, these are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold it fast, and bring forth fruit with patience.

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b) Matthew 15:13Matthew 15:13
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13 But he answered and said, Every plant which my heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up.

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c. To kill and to heal

1) This has reference to the execution of criminals and the healing of the sick

2) Biblical examples …

a) Deuteronomy 13:6-10Deuteronomy 13:6-10
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6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, that is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; 7 of the gods of the peoples that are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; 8 thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: 9 but thou shalt surely kill him; thy hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 10 And thou shalt stone him to death with stones, because he hath sought to draw thee away from Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

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b) Luke 5:31Luke 5:31
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31 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are in health have no need of a physician; but they that are sick.

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d. To break down and build up – simply, there is a time to tear down old dilapidated buildings and replace them with new ones

e. To weep and mourn, and to laugh and dance

1) This deals with the feelings of the heart

2) Good times and bad times comes into the lives of all

3) I am reminded of Romans 12:15Romans 12:15
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15 Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep.

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f. To cast away stones and gather stones

1) The idea is the throwing away to clear a field or the gathering to build a fence

2) There is a time and place for everything

g. To embrace and to refrain from embracing

1) This refers to illicit and legitimate love

2) The Bible says:

a) Proverbs 5:18-21Proverbs 5:18-21
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18 Let thy fountain be blessed; And rejoice in the wife of thy youth. 19  As a loving hind and a pleasant doe, Let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; And be thou ravished always with her love. 20 For why shouldest thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, And embrace the bosom of a foreigner? 21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of Jehovah; And he maketh level all his paths.

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b) 1 Corinthians 7:2-51 Corinthians 7:2-5
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2 But, because of fornications, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render unto the wife her due: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power over her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power over his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer, and may be together again, that Satan tempt you not because of your incontinency.

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h. To seek and keep, and to lose and cast away

1) In life there are gains and losses

2) The wise known when to exert energy in pursing wealth, and when it is prudent to submit and to loss.

i. To rend and to sew

1) This is usually understood of rending the garments as a sign of grief, and the repairing of the tear when the mourning season is over

2) An example – Genesis 37:29Genesis 37:29
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29 And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.

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, 34

j. To be silent and to speak

1) There are times when we should speak out and other times when we should keep our mouths shut

2) For example:

a) Proverbs 15:23Proverbs 15:23
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23 A man hath joy in the answer of his mouth; And a word in due season, how good is it!

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b) Proverbs 17:28Proverbs 17:28
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28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise; When he shutteth his lips, he is esteemed as prudent.

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k. To love and have peace, and to hate and have war

1) Both emotions, love and hate, are common to life

2) There are things to be loved –John 13:34-35John 13:34-35
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34 A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

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3) There are things to be hated – Proverbs 6:16-19Proverbs 6:16-19
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16 There are six things which Jehovah hateth; Yea, seven which are an abomination unto him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood; 18 A heart that deviseth wicked purposes, Feet that are swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that uttereth lies, And he that soweth discord among brethren.

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4. The lesson to be learn in all of this is that we should depend on things in which we have no ultimate control

B. MAN’S DUTY REGARDING THE TIMES AND SEASONS

1. Because there are laws governing the issues and events of life that are beyond man’s ability to regulate, Solomon asks – Ecclesiastes 3:9Ecclesiastes 3:9
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9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth?

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a. The implies answer is that of Ecclesiastes 1:2Ecclesiastes 1:2
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2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

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b. All efforts to circumvent God’s appointed seasons and times are futile

c. Man’s duty is to recognize and accept the circumstance beyond his control

2. Ecclesiastes 3:10-15Ecclesiastes 3:10-15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith. 11 He hath made everything beautiful in its time: also he hath set eternity in their heart, yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done from the beginning even to the end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for them, than to rejoice, and to do good so long as they live. 13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy good in all his labor, is the gift of God. 14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it; and God hath done it, that men should fear before him. 15 That which is hath been long ago; and that which is to be hath long ago been: and God seeketh again that which is passed away.

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a. Man’s needs to realize that everything has a purpose in God’s overall scheme

b. Man cannot fully appreciate the beauty of God’s over all scheme, because they cannot see the finished product.

c. The human view of life has been compared to looking at a bedspread from the under side that appears only as rags, seems, and knotty strings. God sees the upper side of the beautiful pattern His hands have made.

d. To help us understand and accept the times and seasons of our life, we must view things from eternity’s perspective.

e. Man’s duty is to make the best of what he is dealt

f. We face only what people of past generations have endured – 1 Corinthians 10:131 Corinthians 10:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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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CONCLUSION:

A. Lessons of Lasting Value

1. Life changes often, and wise preparation is needed to make the best of it

2. There is a Divine order that pervades human life, and it is proper and wise to accept it with meekness

3. We should seek God’s guidance as we deal the changing times and seasons

4. Man’s true happiness depends on God

B. Even though there many things we have no control over, we can:

1. Choose our own conduct

2. Form our own character

3. Decide to obey God or not

By

“Love birds” in the Song of Solomon

Sometimes couples wonder “what went wrong in our relationship?”  Perhaps these ‘love birds’ in the Song of Solomon can offer a few tips.  Just in chapter one we see how considerate they were of one another.  Note these loving acts of consideration:

1)    He took the time to make sure he had a pleasing scent (1:3).  She did the same (1:12).

2)    While he obviously had a national reputation and major responsibilities (after all, he was the king!), he still took time for her (1:4a).

3)    He succeeded in making her feel like she was the only woman he cared about (1:8).

4)    When she had concerns about where he was and what he was doing, he didn’t chastise her for her lack of trust.  He lovingly explained where he would be and what he would be doing (1:7).  She was welcome to come join him, if she so desired!

5)    Both were very vocal in expressing how much they thought of the other.  Some say, ‘flattery will get you nowhere.’  Well, in the Song it worked well! He said she was “beautiful” (1:15), even saying it twice.  She said he was “handsome” and “pleasant” (1:16).  Of course these words were spoken in all genuineness and sincerity.

6)    She took the time to dress up, just for him.  Any guy will appreciate the effort his gal would make for his benefit, and visual pleasure! (1:9-14).

— Denny Petrillo

What would you have said?

I had already put in a full day of remodeling at my home. I dropped by a nearby McDonald’s for a quick bite and to relax for a minute before I went back at it. I was hoping to let my mind veg over a show I like. However, as I stood in line, a boisterous, middle-aged gentleman made his presence known in a variety of ways. A couple of times he spoke loudly, though not rudely, to the employees informing them of the needs at the drink station. Looking around, I could tell people were a little annoyed by this man’s volume level. He was clearly disturbing what was the “normal” for their restaurant visits.

When I received my meal I looked for a seat. One of the only open ones was at a table next to that same gentleman. As I sat down he was in conversation with a teenage guy who was sitting by himself. He quickly turned the conversation to both of us. When I picked up the conversation, the teen guy quickly finished and left. I got the impression this man carries conversations like this everywhere he goes. The chat jumped from baseball to football, from rules to politics to jobs. Finally, the topic of religion came up.

I talked about the church I worked with and invited him to come. Then something very interesting happened. His very first question after my invitation was this: “Does everyone wear suits at your church?”

This really struck a cord with me. His primary concern wasn’t with our doctrine. He wasn’t concerned about what we teach. He didn’t care about the programs we had in place. He wasn’t focused on who the preacher is. This man wanted to know if it would be a problem if he showed up to worship in jeans and a t-shirt. What this man really wanted to know was: Would he find acceptance here?

Both our world and what appeals to people today has changed. People aren’t nearly as concerned with truth as they are first with relationships. This should cause us to stop and start asking some different questions.

If someone showed up Sunday morning in shorts and a t-shirt, what would our reaction be? Are we more focused on the lack of a suit or state of the soul? Would we be upset by their attire, or excited at the prospect of a soul who needs guidance? Would we show such an overwhelming love, interest, and support in the person that they would feel accepted?

Our world desperately needs the gospel. The problem is, many people aren’t interested in listening to the good news until we can simply show them that we care about them. Sometimes in order to teach the truth, we first need to show our love so the truth can be heard (Ephesians 4:15Ephesians 4:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ;

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). It’s time to start seeing as God sees and look past the fickle appearance (1 Samuel 16:71 Samuel 16:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 But Jehovah said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him: for Jehovah seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looketh on the heart.

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). Besides, that tends to change naturally with spiritual growth anyway! It’s time to stop judging so harshly on silly details and focus on the big picture, their soul (Matthew 7:1-2Matthew 7:1-2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.

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). It’s time stop being soil detectors and start being impartial spreaders (Matthew 13:1-23Matthew 13:1-23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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

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).

Here is the reality; this man has visited your congregation. No, I don’t mean the exact man I met at McDonald’s, but someone just like him. Someone has come looking for relationships, friendships, community, and acceptance. And without fail, someone will also be coming in the near future. Will this person find acceptance in you? Will this person find love in your congregation?

Brett Petrillo

“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1, ESV).

One fine day I was driving in town. As I came around a corner, two young men began to gesticulate excitedly at me. It angered me that they should make fun of my little car. It wasn’t fancy, but it got the job done!

At the traffic light, a fellow driver honked her horn at me, pointing at my car. What was wrong with everybody today, I wondered? When a group of school children began to point at my car and shout something, it began to dawn on this “genius” that they were all trying to tell me something.

I pulled over and found that my left tire was flat. All those people were trying to do was give me information that I needed! The only problem was that I was not listening! I was unteachable, because I thought I knew everything I needed to know already!

In religion, when a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, one of two things will happen. Either he will cease to be mistaken, or he will cease to be honest. When it comes to knowing God’s will, no one has 20/20 vision. We can all learn some more. But the only way to learn more of God’s will is to realize that there is room for improvement. In a word, we must admit the possibility that we might sometimes be wrong.

When it comes to understanding the mind of God, and the riches of wisdom in his word, no one has “learned it all.”

No one.

No matter how profound you feel your insights are, you can still learn more from God. The only impediment to learning is the attitude you don’t need to learn.

This Sunday, come to services with an open Bible…and an open mind!

— by Stan Mitchell

Proverbs 13:1Proverbs 13:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 1 A wise son heareth his father's instruction; But a scoffer heareth not rebuke.

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, ESV).' data-link='http://www.abiblecommentary.com/blog/2016/10/04/a-wise-son-heeds-his-fathers-instruction-but-a-scoffer-does-not-listen-to-rebuke-proverbs-131-esv/' data-summary=''>

LIFE IS FUNNY…

Sometimes those who seem to be our enemies are really our friends.

  • Take the scorpion.  The venom of the five-inch long “death stalker” giant Israeli scorpion contains chlorotoxin, a substance that seeks our cancer-causing cells in the brain and keeps them from traveling anywhere else in the body.  This magical transformation of a death poison into a life preservation substance could be the answer for 25,000 Americans suffering from glioma, at present an incurable and swiftly lethal form of brain cancer.
  • Then there’s the copperhead, a snake found in the eastern United States.  A protein in its venom markedly slows down the growth and spread of tumors, and medical science sees the snake’s poison as a new friend because of its prevention of breast and ovarian tumors in lab animals.
  • A substance distilled from the skin of the poison-dart frog of Ecuador is a potent painkiller, two hundred times stronger than morphine.
  • And from the vines growing in South America, a substance known as curare can be extracted to poison the tips of arrows but also to make a muscle relaxant.  Venom from the saw-scaled viper has molecular compounds that act amazingly like substances in white blood cells and fend off bacterial infections.  Researchers are preparing to test them in the fight against everything from cholera to staph to strep to salmonella.

Medical science demonstrates that what in its original form can be deadly can also be turned back on itself to become a remedy, a healer, a friend.

The same is true for criticism…  Criticism could be poison, or with God’s fondness for turning things around and sending them in the opposite direction, words of criticism can produce the opposite effect and strengthen the people they were meant to hurt.

Appropriate and truthful criticism can point out error; it can point out loopholes in a philosophy.

   But the most interesting effect of all criticism is that criticism only makes the headline type bolder when the critic is proved wrong.  Numerous are the stories of Abraham Lincoln’s slowness, insufficient mental prowess for his high office, deficiencies in formal education, and reliance on the low and vulgar manners of his upbringing.  Yet historians universally recognize him as our greatest president, and this underscores his accomplishments all the more.  John Sloan, “The Best Criticism in the World,” The Barnabas Way, 77-80

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”  Proverbs 27:6Proverbs 27:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; But the kisses of an enemy are profuse.

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–Mike Benson