Archives for : February2017

AMBIGUOUS RECOMMENDATIONS

Robert Thornton, a professor of economics at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, was, like many teachers, frustrated about having to write letters of recommendation for people with dubious qualifications, so he put together an arsenal of statements that can be read two ways.  He calls his collection the “Lexicon of Inconspicuously Ambiguous Recommendations”, or LIAR, for short.

Thornton explains that LIAR may be used to offer a negative opinion of the personal qualities, work habits or motivation of the candidate while allowing the candidate to believe that it is high praise.

Some examples from LIAR:

* To describe a person who is extremely lazy:  “In my opinion, you will be very fortunate to get this person to work for you.”

* To describe a person who is totally inept:  “I most enthusiastically recommend this candidate with no qualifications whatsoever.”

* To describe an ex-employee who had problems getting along with fellow workers:  “I am pleased to say that this candidate is a former colleague of mine.”

* To describe a candidate who is so unproductive that the job would be better left unfilled:  “I can assure you that no person would be better for the job.”

* To describe a job applicant who is not worth further consideration:  “I would urge you to waste no time in making this candidate an offer of employment.”

* To describe a person with lackluster credentials:  “All in all, I cannot say enough good things about this candidate or recommend him too highly.”

Robert Thornton is right, isn’t he?  We don’t like to hurt people’s feelings, but we don’t want to be totally dishonest either, so we are excited to find a way to be ambiguous.  We call it ambiguity, speaking a half-truth, using mental reservation, twisting the truth a bit, being ambivalent.  Perhaps at least Thornton was more honest when he called his collection “LIAR”.

It may be that no Christian characteristic has suffered more in the workplace than honesty.  It shouldn’t be that way.  Jesus wants his people to be known as a people of truth.  It is important that those around us can trust what we say without wondering whether we really mean it or not.

“Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25Ephesians 4:25
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

25 Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak ye truth each one with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

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Have a great day (and I say that in all truth)!

Alan Smith

What A Terrible Day!

Today, I had a terrible day.  Everyone was against me.  Some days, I get so frustrated with people.  Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to deal with people at all.  They can be so unreasonable.  Today was one of those days.

  • Today was “trash day.”  I took out our trash the night before, but when I pulled out of our driveway, I noticed that our grouchy neighbor had thrown a piece of his trash in our yard, close to our trash can! (But he didn’t.  The wind blew it over).
  • After dropping the children off at school, I needed to make a left-hand turn into a long line of traffic.  I saw one of my friends in line and thought she would let me out in front of her.  She saw me, but wouldn’t let me out.  Some friend she is!  (But she didn’t see you.  She was miles away in her own thoughts).
  • At work, two people in the office were talking, and right after I walked by, they both started laughing.  I know they were making fun of me.  (But they weren’t.  They were laughing at a funny story).
  • The cashier at lunch shorted me almost a dollar in change.  See if I ever go back there.  They tried to cheat me.  (But they didn’t.  It was an honest mistake).
  • I tried to call a close friend today and talk, but she refused to answer her phone.  She was dodging my call.  (But he she wasn’t.  Her battery needed recharging).
  • I was running late for Wednesday Bible study, and didn’t sit where I usually sit.  Instead, I had to ask a person to slide down the pew just a little to make room for me.  She slid, but it wasn’t 30 seconds till she got up and left because I made her mad by asking her to move.  (But you didn’t.  She wasn’t feeling well, and decided she needed to leave).
  • After returning home from services, I crashed on the couch due to my rough day, but my husband started washing a huge stack of dishes.  That’s his passive aggressive way of saying, “you’re not a very good housekeeper.”  (But it wasn’t.  It was an act of love).

You know, there’s a reason why God tells us not to judge one another’s motives…because we’re not very good at it at all!  I wonder how many terrible days are just ordinary days that we made terrible by our attitudes and false judgments?  Give it some thought

Steve Higginbotham

NEITHER POVERTY NOR RICHES

Linda was on vacation, playing the slot machines.  It was her first time in a casino, and she wasn’t sure how the machines operated.

“Excuse me,” she said to a casino employee.  “How does this work?”  The worker showed her how to insert a bill, hit the spin button, and operate the release handle.

“And where does the money come out?” she asked.

He smiled and motioned to a far wall before saying, “Usually at the ATM.”

That’s the trouble with gambling and other “get rich quick” schemes. There’s only one person getting rich, and it’s not you!  The lure is strong, though.  The temptation to come away with that big jackpot, to go home with your pockets full without putting forth much effort.  It’s easy to see that Paul was right when he said, “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare….” (I Tim. 6:9a)

Considering the constant temptation of money, it’s not surprising that Jesus had much to say about the subject.  It is significant, though, that Jesus didn’t talk as much about what to do with our money as he talked about the right kind of attitude we ought to have toward it.

Solomon, in his pearls of wisdom contained in Proverbs, also had much to say about our attitude toward wealth.  One of my favorite verses on the subject is this one:

“Give me neither poverty nor riches — Feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, “Who is the LORD?”  Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.” (Prov. 30:8Prov. 30:8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 Remove far from me falsehood and lies; Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is needful for me:

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May you be sufficiently blessed.  But may your riches (or your desire for them) never diminish your sense of need for God.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

There’s a vast difference between attending services and being the church.

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE is something we do together…

 

In Ephesians 4.29, God tells us to build each other up with our words, and later He instructs us to “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (5.19).

 

We need other Christians to speak, sing, and sometimes shout the truths of God’s Word to us.  We need others to pray for us when we’re in the midst of temptation.  We need friends who will hold on to us when we’re ready to give up.  We need friends who will challenge and even rebuke us when we’re indulging in sin.

 

Are you connected to others in the church?  Many people today have lost their vision for the Lord’s church.  I used to be one of those people.  I thought of “church” as merely a building or a place to go for social interaction.  I always went to services, but my lifestyle revealed what a low priority it was for me.  The church was something on the outskirts of my life.  Joshua Harris, “Lone Rangers are Dead Rangers,” Not Even A Hint, 134

 

THOUGHT:   There’s a vast difference between attending services and being the church.  

Mike Benson

 

“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”  Ephesians 1.22-23

What can members do for their elders?

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17Hebrews 13:17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this were unprofitable for you.

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, ESV).

This passage expresses a kind of enlightened self- interest on the part of church members. If you maintain an automobile, change its oil and filters occasionally, it might run well for you; if you thank teachers they might be encouraged and redouble their efforts to teach your children. If you treat elders in a certain manner, they will be able to shepherd your congregation better. So, what can members do for their elders?

* They can come to worship without being bribed, begged and cajoled. They can come just because it’s the right thing to do.

* They can support the church’s programs because they know the way to kill a program is to simply be absent.

* They can volunteer to participate in the church’s program, removing the awkward moment of wearily asking yet another member to help the world’s most important organization, the church.

* They can see the congregation’s needs as a whole, not just that of their demographic group or clique. After all, that’s what an elder has to do, consider all the parts of the congregation.

* They can understand that some decisions will be made with information not available to members.

Sometimes elders become privy to member problems that are private and do not need to be “aired on Channel 7.”

* They can assume good faith on the part of their elders, that these men love the Lord, love the church, and love the flock they serve.

What can members expect from elders?

* They can expect more than decision-making, but actual shepherding.

* They can expect more than decision-making, they can expect to be taught God’s word.

* Having said that, they should expect decision- making to occur. Being an elder is a leadership position; some members don’t want to be led, they want, without sufficient qualifications or maturity, to make unilateral decisions.

* They can expect transparency in those areas that require transparency; the church budget, for instance, is not a national secret. They can expect to be included, for instance, in the process of selecting new elders and deacons.

* They can expect that elders lead Christian lifestyles. The elder is an example to the flock (1 Peter 5:1,21 Peter 5:1,2
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5 1 The elders among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly, according to the will of God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

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* They can expect decisions to be thought over and prayed for. How many times have we heard people say, “We wish the elders would make decisions more quickly”? I have a counter question: Do you want them to make decisions hastily?

Remember this: The elders are not here to decide doctrine and teaching; the Bible has already done that. They are here to make discerning, wise decisions in matters of judgment. How often and when to worship? Who to hire as minister? What kind of outreach program? What missions do we support (note, not “Will we support missions?” but “Which missions should we support?”). What methods do we use to develop local leaders?

Note that when the Bible speaks of spiritual leadership it turns most often not to the world of politics or the military, but to the world of the pasture; shepherd and sheep. As usual, the Bible is in this regard apt and accurate.

–Stan Mitchell

Marriage, divorce and remarriage

“And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery” (Mark 10:12Mark 10:12
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12 and if she herself shall put away her husband, and marry another, she committeth adultery.

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).  If a woman herself divorces her husband, and marries another, she commits adultery.”

I suppose if you were a member of the Jesus Seminar, or at least cut from a similar cloth, this is one of the sayings of Jesus you would certainly eliminate from the gospels. Think about it.

First, from a legal point of view, it’s entirely counter-cultural. In Matthew’s account – generally speaking, the more heavily favored one among those who discuss this subject – the focus is entirely on a husband putting away his wife. That is natural. In most cultures, and ancient Judaism was no exception, men enjoy legal preeminence. However, in Mark’s record, Jesus indicates that the law works both ways (Mark 10:11-12Mark 10:11-12
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11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her: 12 and if she herself shall put away her husband, and marry another, she committeth adultery.

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Second, even if we could get over the counter-cultural element, from a moral point of view, there is no way Jesus would ever say such a thing. You mean to tell me that the loving, merciful Jesus would condemn someone who divorced their spouse and married someone else? God forbid it. (By the way, Jesus did offer one exception clause to allow for divorce, see Matthew 19:9Matthew 19:9
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9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery.

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Don’t get lost in the King James vernacular, folks. It’s actually quite helpful. The –eth suffix on committeth simply indicates the verb tense in the Greek, which is still preferable, in my opinion, to the modern rendering, “commits.” The Greek tense indicates something continual. The literal translation would be, “keeps on committing adultery.”

In this way, Jesus essentially defines adultery as both a specific sin, and categorizes the relationship that harbors it, as a sinful way of living. Since so many people practice this (by imagining more exceptions, or by simply ignoring the whole topic), it seems highly unlikely that the real Jesus would have said it. I mean seriously, think of how many people’s lives would be terribly uncomfortable if he did!

I read a written debate some years ago where a preacher argued that he couldn’t accept Jesus’ teaching on divorce and adultery because it didn’t give him enough opportunities to offer people grace in their chosen way of life. I guess that settles it. If the limits of Jesus’ grace don’t appeal to you, you know what to do: just pretend like he didn’t say what he said. Live however you want and make up a Jesus that approves of it.

Many more will be saved if we ignore or dismiss Jesus’ words, so let’s ignore them and claim that the real Jesus didn’t say them. We’ll call it a fabrication from a later editor of the gospels.

There. We just saved millions of people from eternal torment, and made Jesus much more appealing to the masses. See? Saving souls is easier than you think.

Rick Kelley

It was this man who stepped forward and asked Pilate for the body of Jesus following the crucifixion

He was a member of the Jewish council, the Sanhedrin (cf. Luke 23:50Luke 23:50
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50 And behold, a man named Joseph, who was a councillor, a good and righteous man

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a). Think of the Sanhedrin as the Supreme Court of the Jews. It was the authoritative body to which all questions of Hebrew law were finally addressed.

Scripture tells us he wasn’t just a member of the mighty council, but he was a prominent member of this judicial body (cf. Mark 15:43Mark 15:43
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

43 there came Joseph of Arimathaea, a councillor of honorable estate, who also himself was looking for the kingdom of God; and he boldly went in unto Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.

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). Think upper crust.

Ironically, it was this man who stepped forward and asked Pilate for the body of Jesus following the crucifixion. I find that fascinating. As far as we know, Jesus’ own family didn’t request his body, nor did those closest to him, the twelve.

“Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus” (Mark 15:43Mark 15:43
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43 there came Joseph of Arimathaea, a councillor of honorable estate, who also himself was looking for the kingdom of God; and he boldly went in unto Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.

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Take special note of the phrase, “and taking courage…” Let that simmer in your skillet for a few moments.

All four gospel accounts mention Joseph’s request for the corpse of the Lord, but Mark’s account alone employs the words “and taking courage…” Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus (cf. John 19:38John 19:38
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 And after these things Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked of Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took away his body.

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), but he took courage.

Think about the enormous courage it must have taken to ask Pilate for Jesus’ body. Pilate probably already had a bad taste in his mouth with reference to the Sanhedrin. The Jewish council had brought Jesus to his court on trumped up charges, insisted that he find the Lord guilty, and then have him put to death.

When Pilate resisted the council’s will, the Sanhedrin threatened to go to the Romans. “From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, ‘If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend…'” (John 19:12John 19:12
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12 Upon this Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou release this man, thou art not Caesar's friend: every one that maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.

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a). “You are not Caesar’s friend…” was the council’s way of political intimidation.

I’m inclined to think that probably didn’t help Joseph’s cause. And yet, he—a prominent member of the Sanhedrin, went to Pilate (who didn’t exactly have close, warm associations with the Sanhedrin), and asked for the dead body of the very man the Sanhedrin at large (cf. Luke 23:51Luke 23:51
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51 , a man of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews, who was looking for the kingdom of God:

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) wanted to kill!

That took courage.

Dear friend, the next time you’re tempted to not take a stand for Christ, the next time you’re inclined to remain in the shadows and not do a good work for fear of others, remember Joseph of Arimathea. He was a secret, fearful disciple, but he took courage.

–Mike Benson

The Drunk “Lifestyle”

They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me but I do not feel it! When shall I awake? I must have another drink!” (Proverbs 23:35Proverbs 23:35
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35 They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not hurt; They have beaten me, and I felt it not: When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

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, ESV).

Solomon wisely chooses to make gentle fun of the drunk. For some unaccountable reason, young people, wannabe “he-men,” and some empty-headed young women associate getting drunk with being smooth and debonair.

Yes, and World Federation Wrestling is real, too!

So how do you puncture this perception? Solomon does it by imagining a drunk rolling with the punches, getting into bar room brawls, substituting booze for bravery, fumes for fearlessness. But as he’s bounced around the room, marveling at the fact that he’s not hurt, the reader senses that tomorrow he will know, the bruises and black eyes will remind him.

Then, most damaging of all is his addiction. Far from learning from his mistake, he wonders: “When can I wake up” so I can begin another round of drinking? When will he wake up, indeed.

Of course, addiction is not funny. The maimed bodies at the crash site, the beaten children when Dad returns home reeling and resentful, the money that should have gone to food and clothes burned up in an alcoholic haze.

But if one young person can see this “hero” for who he really is, then perhaps he can avoid the lifestyle. Because it’s hardly “life,” and it’s certainly not any sort of “style.”

–by Stan Mitchell

You old Heifer!

The story is told of a man who was returning home from work one day and as he neared his home, a neighbor lady approached him in an oncoming car, stretched her head out the driver’s window, looked him square in the eyes, and yelled, “pig!” Taken back by this woman’s rude comment, and having a bad day, this man instinctively replied, but yelling back at her, “You old Heifer!” Feeling a sense of satisfaction, he rounded the corner, and there in the middle of the road was standing a large pig.

Rather than hurling an insult at him, this man’s neighbor was trying to warn him of impending danger. But he was guilty of thinking the worse; speaking before thinking. Consequently he found himself in a rather embarrassing position for which he later had to apologize.

Friends, have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? Have you ever incorrectly judged another person’s actions, words, or thoughts? Each day we live, we ought to appreciate even more the inspired words of James who said, “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (James 1:19James 1:19
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19 Ye know this, my beloved brethren. But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

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Steve Higginbotham

Spiritually immature Christians are deadly to the work of the Church

The one thing needed by most congregations of the Lord’s Church doesn’t cost a penny. We can put millions into new buildings, exciting entertainment and comedians in the pulpit.

However, the problems are internal and they are causing great damage among God’s people. The importance of spiritual maturity in our Christian lives cannot be overestimated.

Without it, we can destroy the Lord’s work in the communities we serve. Spiritually immature Christians are deadly to the work of the Church. They bring the sins of the flesh into the Lord’s body and we fight, argue, divide and misrepresent Christ to the world.

The job of God’s people is to glorify Christ through teaching, serving and helping others (Ephesians 3:20- 21Ephesians 3:20- 21
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Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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). How can we do that unless we become the kind of people God desires?

The writer of Hebrews criticizes his readers for being “dull of hearing” (Hebrews 5:11Hebrews 5:11
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11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard of interpretation, seeing ye are become dull of hearing.

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), which means that they were sluggish and lazy mentally. They needed to invigorate their minds with the gospel (Hebrews 5:12- 13Hebrews 5:12- 13
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Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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God’s people must become hungry, eager students of Scripture so they can make proper decisions on a daily basis (Hebrews 5:14Hebrews 5:14
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14 But solid food is for fullgrown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.

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). Christians that are transformed no longer live as the world and must be wiser in their choices (Romans 12:1-2Romans 12:1-2
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12 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 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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; Ephesians 4:17Ephesians 4:17
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17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind,

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Spiritual maturity will yield fruit that will make a profound impact in our communities. If an entire congregation is growing spiritually, powerful things can happen.

* Unity and peace will transform our spiritual atmosphere (Ephesians 4:12Ephesians 4:12
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12 for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ:

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* Grace, trust, kindness and gentleness will change our relationships (1 John 4:7-191 John 4:7-19
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7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No man hath beheld God at any time: if we love one another, God abideth in us, and his love is perfected in us: 13 hereby we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father hath sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God. 16 And we know and have believed the love which God hath in us. God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him. 17 Herein is love made perfect with us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, even so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath punishment; and he that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love, because he first loved us.

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* Courage, patience and love will transform evangelism (Matthew 28:18-20Matthew 28:18-20
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18 And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

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* Teamwork will transform service and benevolence (Philippians 2:1-4Philippians 2:1-4
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2 1 If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, 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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* Godly lives will create new opportunities (Ephesians 4:15Ephesians 4:15
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15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ;

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* Christ will have a throne in our midst (Acts 2:41-47Acts 2:41-47
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41 They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need. 46 And day by day, continuing stedfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved.

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Spiritual maturity is desperately needed today. The Church needs everyone on task and involved spiritually if we will change the world. Souls are dying while our immaturity allows Satan to ravage our congregations.

* When will we awaken and take a stand?

* When will we take Bible study seriously?

* When will we finally become what God wants us to be?

“For you were bought at a price; therefore

glorify God in your body and in your spirit,

which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:201 Corinthians 6:20
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20 for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.

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Richard Mansel

Christ The Sinless One

“For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15Heb. 4:15
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15 For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

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). Three words in that verse define the humanity of Jesus that makes Him qualified to serve as our Redeemer: “Yet without sin.” Everything about Jesus’ earthly sojourn culminates in this one amazing statement. William Moorehead is credited with having made the following observation about the manhood of Jesus: “At every stage of His development, in every relation of life, in every part of His service He is absolutely perfect. To no part of His life does a mistake attach, over no part of it does a cloud rest, nowhere is there defect” (The Fundamentals, Volume 2, page 61). One reason why Jesus lived such an extraordinary life is seen His humility. Jesus came to do the Father’s will, and He never lost sight of that supreme goal. Paul tells us that He “emptied himself, taking upon himself the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7Phil. 2:7
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7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men;

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a). The gospels paint a picture of Someone Who never drew attention to Himself, never demanded His “rights,” or desired fame or fortune.  Again from the words of Moorehead:

He receives ministry from the lowly and the lofty; He is sometimes hungry, yet feeds the multitudes in desert places; He has no money, yet He never begs, and He provides the coin for tribute to the government from a fish’s mouth. He may ask for a cup of water at the well, but it is that He may save a soul. He never flies from enemies; He quietly withdraws or passes by unseen. Hostility neither excites nor exasperates Him. He is always calm, serene. He seems to care little for Himself, for His own ease or comfort or safety, but everything for the honor and the glory of the Father.

The very character of Jesus declares His divinity. Even if the word of God never declared in so many words the deity of Jesus, His life would stand as a testimony to that undeniable truth. Consider the words of the Hebrews writer for a moment.

First, “one that hath in all points been tempted like as we are.” Temptation is not sin; if it were then it could not be said that Jesus was “without sin.” The devil attacked the woman in the Garden using the “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vainglory of life” (2 John 2:162 John 2:16
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Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja!

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b). “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [“lust of the flesh], and that it was a delight to the eyes [“lust of the eyes”], and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise [“the vainglory of life”], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat” (Gen. 3:6Gen. 3:6
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6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.

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). I dare not minimize the sin of Adam and Eve, but it should be pointed out that the devil threw all he had at her; unfortunately she caved in, “and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat” (Gen. 3:6Gen. 3:6
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6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.

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b). All men since have been tempted in one of those three ways, and in every case the outcome was that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (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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). Fast forward some 4,000 years. The devil again uses the same avenues in an attempt of seduce Jesus to sin: “If thou art the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (Matt. 4:3Matt. 4:3
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3 And the tempter came and said unto him, If thou art the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.

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) – the “lust of the flesh.” “If thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down” (Matt. 4:6Matt. 4:6
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6 and saith unto him, If thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and, On their hands they shall bear thee up, Lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone.

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) – the “vainglory of life.” “Again, the devil taketh him unto an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them” (Matt. 4:8Matt. 4:8
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8 Again, the devil taketh him unto an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

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) – “lust of the eyes.”  Don’t tell me that Jesus was not tempted. Don’t tell me that He did not face what we have to face in our everyday, rat-race world. Don’t tell me He never felt what we have felt when it comes to the power of temptation.

Now focus on those three words that sets Jesus apart from all men: “yet without sin.” Those words could not have been written had Jesus not demonstrated that sinless nature throughout His life. The gospels bear witness to one unique fact of Jesus’ life, and that is that He lived a sinless life. Consider the following evidence.

First, there is the testimony of His enemies. Throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry the Pharisees were watching His every move. If there were any “skeletons in the closet” they would surely have dug them up. Someone once pointed out: “There was the Pharisee mingling in every crowd, hiding behind every tree. They examined His disciples, they cross-questioned all around Him. They looked into His ministerial life, into His domestic privacy, into His hours of retirement. They came forward with the sole accusation they could muster – that He had shown disrespect to Caesar. The Roman judge who ought to know, pronounced it void.” To that list of enemies we could add Judas, who after betraying Jesus to the Jewish and Roman authorities, confessed that he had betrayed innocent blood.

Second, there is the testimony of the friends of Jesus. Do we think for a moment that had they found some flaw, some sin in the life of Jesus that they would have dedicated their life to following Him? They would have turned away in utter disgust, seeing in this person nothing more than a charlatan, fraud, and hypocrite. Even John the Baptist, perhaps one of the purest of men, realized that when compared to Jesus, he paled in comparison.

Third, there is the very life of Jesus, recorded in the Gospels, and, like an open book, ready for examination. Jesus never prayed for forgiveness. In fact He never asks His disciples to pray for Him in any fashion whatsoever. Once more from the pen of Moorehead:

There is about Him an air of superior holiness, of aloofness from the world and its ways, a separation from evil in every form and of every grade, such as no other that has ever lived has displayed. Although descended from an impure ancestry, He brought no taint of sin into the world with Him; and though He mingled with sinful men and was assailed by fierce temptations, He contracted no guilt, he was touched by no stain. He was not merely undefiled, but He was undefilable. He was like a ray of light which parting from the fountain of light can pass through the foulest medium and still be unstained and untouched. He came down into all the circumstances of actual humanity in its sin and misery, and yet He kept the infinite purity of heaven with Him. In the annals of our race there is none next to or like Him.

I once observed that when God created this universe He created it perfect. Even after the fall of man, and the universal flood, the beauties of creation astound the imagination. One example will suffice here. Have you ever seen any of the colors of a mountain side, or a setting sun clash? The colors of the rainbow blend in exquisite beauty. Now apply that same principle to the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. In every way, and in every situation, our Lord lived a balanced life. Moorhead picked up on this wonderful aspect of our Lord: “In Jesus there is the most perfect balance, the most amazing equipoise of every faculty and grace and duty and power. In His whole life one day’s walk never contradicts another, one hour’s service never clashes with another. While He shows he is master of nature’s tremendous forces, and the Lord of the unseen world, He turns aside and lays His glory by to take little children in His arms and to bless them. While He must walk amid the snares His foes have privily spread for His feet, He is equal to every occasion, is in harmony with the requirements of every moment. He never speaks where it would be better to keep silence, He never keeps silence where it would be better to speak; and He always leaves the arena of controversy a victor. His unaffected majesty, so wonderfully depicted in the Gospels, runs through His whole life, and is as manifest in the midst of poverty and scorn, at Gethsemane and Calvary, as on the Mount Of Transfiguration and in the resurrection from the grave” (Moorehead, The Fundamentals, Volume 2, page 69).

How blessed is mankind that Jesus lived the life He lived, “tempted in all points…yet without sin.” May we never take that for granted, but praise our Father for sending His Son, “Christ the sinless One!”

[Note: I borrowed and adapted many of the thoughts presented by Moorehead in his chapter in The Fundamentals, Volume 2. If you have never read that chapter you owe it to yourself to do so.  TW]

by Tom Wacaster

ARE YOU WILLING TO BE A SPOON?

Recently, Pa was being irritable, especially regarding food. At a nearby restaurant, he stopped for a quick meal and the waiter provided a bowl of soup.

As the waiter turned away to return to the kitchen, Pa stopped him, calling: “Waiter!”

“Yes, sir, is there something wrong?”

“The soup. Taste it,” replied Pa.

“I beg your pardon, Sir?”

“Taste it.”

“But, Sir, I can assure you that the soup is excellent.”

“Taste it,” Pa persisted.

“Sir, the soup was made this morning of the finest ingredients.”

“Taste it!”

The exasperated waiter finally relented. “All right, Sir, I’ll taste it.” Then after a pause he said,  “Where is the spoon?”

To which Pa replied triumphantly, “Ah ha … ”

It doesn’t matter how good soup is, if I have no way to get the soup to my mouth, I will never be able to enjoy it.  In a similar way, it doesn’t matter how wonderful the gospel message is, if it doesn’t get to those who need it, it will never do them any good.  The Bible uses several metaphors to describe this process.  We are the “hands and feet” of Jesus.  Also, Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:72 Corinthians 4:7
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7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves;

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that we are “earthen vessels” of little value that carry the far more valuable message about Jesus.  Allow me to add one more image to the list — we are God’s “spoons”!

Think about this.  Nobody eats a meal at a fine restaurant, then later raves about how nice the spoon was!  No, they may rave about how good the soup was, but no one pays much attention to the spoon.  The purpose of the spoon is merely to allow you to enjoy the soup.  In fact, you hardly even notice the spoon…..unless you don’t have one!

Our job is not to get people to notice us.  Rather, our purpose is merely to get the gospel message to as many people as possible.

“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14Romans 10:14
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14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

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).

There are people around you who will never know the beauty of the story of Jesus Christ unless you’re willing to be a “spoon”!  Will you share that message with someone today?

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Maybe that means God simply doesn’t have anything to say to us tonight.

This will be the last post till on or about 2/13.

SOME YEARS AGO I sat near the front in a worship service and watched the guest speaker pace back and forth across the stage…

He was a popular speaker in our area, and crowds had come to hear what he had to say.  My first clue that something wasn’t right was when he started saying, “I forgot my Bible tonight.”

But that didn’t deter him.  He explained that for days he had prayed about what God wanted him to say to us.  He told stories about how he had taken walks in the neighborhood, sat at coffee shops, and reclined in his study.  He was funny, witty, and engaging, and he kept the crowd entertained.

When he came to the conclusion, these were his exact words: “I tried to do everything I could to figure out what God wanted to say to us, but nothing ever came to my mind.  So maybe that means God simply doesn’t have anything to say to us tonight.”  With that, he prayed and walked off the stage.

I sat there with my Bible in my hands, dumbfounded.  God didn’t have anything to say to us tonight?  There I was, holding a library of sixty-six books that are decidedly and definitively the Word of God, and this guy had just said that God doesn’t have a word for us?  In my mind I said to this guy, “Just open this book anywhere–to Leviticus, for all I care–and read it, and you’ve got a word from God.  Save yourself the walk around the neighborhood and the cost of your mocha.  Just read the book, and God is saying something to us.”  David Platt, “God is Saying Something,” RADICAL Together, 39-40
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  2 Timothy 3:16-172 Timothy 3:16-17
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16 Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.

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; cf. 2 Peter 1:32 Peter 1:3
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3 seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue;

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Mike Benson

WHAT DOES JESUS say about tradition…?

The Pharisees referred to it as “the tradition of the elders” (Mark 7.3, 5).  But Jesus called it “the precepts of men” (v. 7), and “the tradition of men” (v. 8).

Now this immediately cut the ground from under the Pharisees’ feet.  They believed Scripture and tradition were equally ancient, equally Mosaic, equally divine.  Christ did not share their view.  On the contrary, He drew a sharp distinction between the two.  One the one hand there was what “Moses said” (v. 10), and on the other what “you say” (v. 11).  At first sight one might suppose that this was simply to set two Jewish teachers or schools of thought in opposition to each other, Moses and the elders.  But this is not at all how Jesus saw the disagreement.  To Him Moses and the elders were not comparable, for the elders were fallible men with human traditions, while Moses was the spokesman of God.  So what “you say” is equivalent to “your tradition” (vv. 9, 13) or “the tradition of men” (v. 8), whereas what “Moses said” is “the commandment of God” (vv. 8-9) and “the word of God” (v. 13).  To put this beyond question we may observe that the phrase “Moses said” in verse 10 is rendered in Matthew 15:4Matthew 15:4
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4 For God said, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death.

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“God said”, and this was the consistent custom of Jesus and His apostles.  For them, “Scripture says” and “God says” were synonymous.

Thus we have our Lord’s own authority for distinguishing between Scripture and tradition as between God’s Word written and all human interpretations and accretions.

Put another way, we may say that the only “tradition” which Scripture recognizes is Scripture.  For “tradition” (Greek – paradosis) is what is handed down, and God’s purpose has been that His Word, His unique revelation given to prophets and apostles, should be transmitted from generation to generation.  John R. W. Stott, “Authority: Tradition or Scripture?”, Christ the Controversialist, 70

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  2 Timothy 2.2

Mike Benson

 

Rent-A-Friend

In Japan, they have an organization which has become very successful.  It is a company through which one can hire a “friend.”  The number of Rent-a-Friend agencies in Japan has doubled to about 10 in the past eight years.  It seems the lonely are willing to pay money to spend time with others.

They’re glad to be in the company of another person – even if it is a random “actor” – for a few hours.

Although it’s difficult to measure the exact extent of the problem, loneliness seems to be on the increase.  “Young people today are immersed in a world where they can live entirely separated from others,” says psychiatrist Rika Kamaya – who traces the root of the problem to the development of smart phones, social media and gaming consoles – which breed isolation.  This phenomenon is set to increase.  “It’s happening right before our eyes,” says Kamaya.

There is also a degree of acceptance and security in the anonymity that cyber-space affords, especially among the socially awkward or physically unattractive.  Some say that they feel “lonely, even in the middle of a crowd,” and “consider establishing a real relationship with another person as an effort.”

“I don’t go out of my way to make friends,” one person says.  “It just leads to disappointment.”

Some of the lonely are seeking out the services of Rent-a-Friend agencies. For a few precious moments, they can chat and get worries off their chest, go shopping, or watch a movie with a real person who appears to care for them.

Single mothers can rent a husband to help their children with homework or solve minor problems with neighbors.  It’s also possible to rent a mother or father in which to confide when in need of advice or facing difficulties. *

The Bible speaks of the value of friendship:  “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
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9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up.

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NIV).

“…But there IS a Friend Who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24Proverbs 18:24
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24 He that maketh many friends doeth it to his own destruction; But there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

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).

The Greatest Friend that one can have – and that all desperately need – is Jesus Christ.

Our sin creates the greatest loneliness: separation from God (Isaiah 59:1-2Isaiah 59:1-2
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59 1 Behold, Jehovah's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear.

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) and a “dead end” (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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).  Jesus is the only Friend that can save us.

God loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that we can be reconciled to Him, become a part of His family, and live eternally with Him (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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; Ephesians 2:19Ephesians 2:19
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19 So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God,

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; 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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).  And Jesus willingly “laid down His life for His friends” (John 15:13John 15:13
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13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

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).

God will save 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 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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).

You can HAVE-A-FRIEND in Jesus.

Won’t YOU accept His offer of a redeeming and abiding friendship by trusting and obeying Him?

— Mike Eddlemon and David A. Sargent

 

* “Rent-A-Friend: A Solution for the Lonely People of Japan” by Philippe Mesmer as reported in www.worldcrunch.com