Archives for : July2017

The graveyard is full of people that had plans for tomorrow.

READY TO VANISH AWAY

An older lady was in the hospital reading her Bible when her doctor came in for his visit.   She asked him how she was doing.

He told her to read Hebrews 13:8, which says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”, meaning she was about the same.

However, she reversed the numbers and read Hebrews 8:13, “Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away,” which concerned her very much!

While the Hebrew writer wrote that verse about the “old covenant” (the Law of Moses), the words could just as accurately been written to describe each and every one of us, for we are all growing old, and it won’t be very long before we will vanish away (from this world).    God’s Word describes our life on this earth as “a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

We don’t like to think of life in that way.  We live in an age that likes to make things that last.  We have our plastic and non-breakable jars and cups. We buy a car battery and are given a guarantee that it will last as long as we own our car.  And we would like a guarantee that our bodies could last forever.  But it’s just not the case.  James tells us that we don’t know what will happen tomorrow (James 4:14).  The graveyard is full of people that had plans for tomorrow.

Notice some of the metaphors used in the Bible for the span of a person’s life.  And, as you would imagine, every time the Bible talks about the length of your life, it uses a metaphor that is a fleeting metaphor.  We’re compared to vapor, to shadows, to clouds, to flowers, to fog, to grass that grows one day and is dead the next.

That can be a frightening thought, or it can be comforting.    For someone whose life is wrapped up in material things, death means losing everything they consider to be of value.  But, for someone who has laid up treasures in heaven, death is an opportunity to shed the trials and tribulations of this world and enjoy an eternity in the presence of our Father and his family.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

You are ready to “vanish away”.  The question is, are you “ready” to vanish away?

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Jesus Christ

JESUS WAS NEITHER a salesman nor a manipulator…

He was not trying to convince anyone to do anything.  Instead, Jesus focused on illuminating the truth about issues, events, questions, and concerns.

His words made it possible for his listeners to see the truth.

But what they did with that understanding was their choice.

Of course, he hoped that his listeners would make the right choices and decisions, but he did not try to coerce or manipulate them.

Rather, he focused a penetrating spotlight on false beliefs and life’s illusions.

This is why he claimed to be “the light of the world.”

Those who would follow him would “not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Over and over again we see him exposing false values and revealing hidden truths.  Steven K. Scott, “A MESSAGE That Communicates, “The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived,” 104

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  John 8:12

Mike Benson

 

THE POWER OF one…

One Samaritan woman told the men in her city about the Christ.

 

One man, Noah, built a boat that saved the human race.

 

One man, Moses, stood up to Pharaoh and delivered the Hebrews from Egypt.

 

One woman, Deborah, delivered Israel from the Canaanite oppression.

 

One man, David, defeated the Philistines when he killed their champion, Goliath.

 

One woman, Esther, had the courage to approach the king and see her nation spared from extermination.

 

THOUGHT: Someone said, “To the world you may just be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”  To this we might add, to you they may seem like just one lost soul, but to God that may be a soul who can shake the whole world.  Dave Earley & David Wheeler, “Not Following the Example of the Disciples,” Evangelism Is…, 133-134

 

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4.13 

Mike Benson

Those of you who came here today to worship Henry Ward Beecher are excused at this time

Why Are You Here?

Henry Ward Beecher was a renowned 19th century preacher.  He actually achieved “celebrity status” in his day.  People would flock to hear him preach when he came to their community.  On one occasion in Brooklyn, NY, many curiosity seekers arrived at Plymouth Church to hear the famous Henry Ward Beecher speak.  However, to their dismay, Thomas Beecher, Henry’s brother, rose to deliver the message that day instead.  When people came to the realization that the renowned Beecher would not be speaking, they arose from their seats and headed for the doors.

Unmoved by what was happening, Thomas Beecher quickly brought things into perspective when he said, “Those of you who came here today to worship Henry Ward Beecher are excused at this time.  However, those of you who came to worship God, please remain seated.”  Nothing more needed to be said.

Sometimes I think we may need to be reminded that when we assemble on the Lord’s day, it’s not to be entertained, impressed, or “wowed” by the speaker, but to worship God.  When our mindset views the preacher as a the participant, and ourselves as his audience, we’ve lost focus.  Actually, we are all the participants, and God is the audience.  Instead of judging the preacher’s eloquence, critiquing the song leader’s selection and tempo, and timing the length of the closing prayer, it might be more helpful to consider how God is judging our performance.  Give it some thought.

Steve Higginbotham

She’s ‘Bananas’

Seems we preachers are always looking for illustrative material to use to help accent a point. Well, here’s one I found with respect to labeling and judging:

A lady was being admitted to the hospital, and as the procedure goes, she was asked if she was allergic to anything. They needed to know so they could make the appropriate notation on her wrist band. The lady told the nurse that she was allergic to certain types of fruit, specifically bananas. A couple of hours later the lady’s grown son stormed the nurse’s station and said, “All right! Who’s responsible for labeling my mother ‘bananas’?”

Just a simple misunderstanding, but how true to life this illustration is.

We are often guilty of inappropriate judging and false labeling. Take these situations:

  • If a woman likes to wear makeup and bright and fancy clothes, she’s judged as arrogant or self-absorbed. The reality is that she’s excited about life, and happy to be a Christian. Her bright clothing reflects her happy heart (Rm. 12:15).
  • If a man drives an expensive car, he’s labeled as materialistic and having misplaced priorities. Yet, little does the one judging take into account the fact that here is a man who is a good steward of his blessings, and uses his wealth to be a blessing to others (3 Jn. 2).
  • If you walk by someone and say hello, and they don’t respond back in kind, that individual is judged as either too good to talk to you or he has a chip on his shoulder. However, what you didn’t know is that this man just lost his job and is trying to figure out where he goes from here.
  • If the preacher on Sunday offends because he preaches against something you did on Friday or Saturday night, he’s labeled as being an extremist or out of touch. Though, if the one offended took the time to get to know the preacher he would learn that the preacher has the best interest of each Christian in mind, and is simply preaching the truth of God’s word the best way he knows how (1 Cor. 2:2; Eph. 4:15).

You could add a hundred and one other examples to this list. False judging and incorrect labels on others are precisely what Jesus was talking about when he said, “…judge not that ye be not judged” (Mt. 7:1). Jesus is saying that we must not be hypercritical and make judgments based on superficial investigation.

Now, that’s not to say that Jesus condemned all judging. For, in the same context that he warned of judging, he said, “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgement” (Jn. 7:24). That is, we appraise one’s character based on consistent conduct. There are occasions when judgments must be made.

Let’s always give one another the benefit of the doubt. Be sure to get to know someone before passing judgment. Even then, be careful not to judge another’s heart unless that heart has been revealed to you (1 Cor. 2:11).

–Neil Richey

“Reciprocation”

To reciprocate means  to “give in return,” to “respond,” to “give back,”  or, to “reply.”  In the context of Biblical love (agape love), reciprocation is a necessity else genuine love does not exist in the relationship.  For example:  A man may genuinely love a woman, but if the woman does not “reciprocate” that love, the relationship will suffer.

The same is true in our relationship with God.  God loves us.  If you doubt the genuineness of His love, just consider the Cross.  However, if we do not reciprocate that love, our relationship with Him will suffer.

The question becomes: “How do we reciprocate God’s love?”  In our own minds, we can think of a lot of ways, but the only way that has any value is the way given in the Bible and the Bible gives only one way to demonstrate our love for God.  “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1John 5:3).  “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me (John 14:21).  “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (John 14:23).

Many verbalize their love for God while at the same time ignoring His word. “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1John 3:18).  To coin a phrase we conclude: “Actions speak louder than words.”  “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.” (1John 2:4-5).

–Toby Miller

How Parents are Destroying our Schools

          America’s school system is in a mess. It would be difficult to find someone who would disagree. The difference lies in the solution. The Heritage Foundation regularly points out that spending on education has sky-rocketed over the past three decades while scores have flat-lined. More money is not the problem.

 

          From my experience in school as well as a parent, America has great teachers and superb equipment and facilities. I did have some teachers that should have chosen a different profession but overall the teachers were (and are) great. They love their students and love to teach. They will go out of their way to help any and every student move forward. A major hindrance is the federal department of education with its dubious mandates and testing. All that does is add stress to the teachers and their students.

 

          But I am convinced that America’s schools are suffering more than anything else from delinquent parents. Speak to a school administrator and he or she will relate something to the effect that many parents tell the schools: “You’ve got my kid eight hours a day. Make them behave!” Too many parents have turned the discipline and instruction of their children over to the school system. But that’s not what the school system is for!

 

          Back in the day when our educators were preparing students to land on the moon, very little time was taken up with disciplinary matters. Most of the time was devoted to instruction time. Today, the opposite is true. Teachers have to consistently discipline those who are disruptive which takes away from instructional time with the well-behaved.

 

          That suggests that the biggest cause of our failing schools are parents who are failing. They don’t teach the children to sit down and listen. They don’t teach the children to want to improve themselves. They don’t teach the children to respect authority. They don’t teach the children to listen twice as much as they talk.

 

          Dads are too busy working to spend time with their children at home. Dads may be well disciplined with their jobs but fail to pass that self-discipline on to their kids. And, if they are at home, too often they’re not involved in their kids’ education. Moms are too busy working as well. Or, for whatever reason, they aren’t teaching their children to respect their teachers and listen attentively.

 

          In an article on National Review Online entitled “We have a Parenting Problem, Not a Poverty Problem,” Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute addresses this very problem. We need young people who have children after marriage and then get jobs and then raise their children. Will America ever wake up?

 

          Proverbs 19:18 – “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.”

 

–Paul Holland

But He said to them

JESUS CHRIST WAS constantly engaged in controversy with the church leaders of His day…

 

They were critical of Him; He was even more outspokenly critical of them.  

 

He did not hesitate when necessary to dissent from their views in public, or to warn the people of their false teaching.

 

“Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” He said to His disciples.  John R.W. Stott, “Authority: Tradition or Scripture?”, Christ the Controversialist, 65

 

“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”  But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him.”  Matthew 12.1-3

 

Mike Benson

It ain’t just the preacher who needs to be holy

A sermon on holiness.

Are you in this cave?

A hunter took refuge in a cave during a rainstorm. After he had dried out a bit, he decided to investigate his temporary home and turned on his flashlight. Imagine his surprise when he discovered he was sharing the cave with an assortment of spiders, lizards, and snakes! His exit was a fast one.

If the unsaved world could only see, it would realize that it is living on the low level of murder and lies, surrounded by that old serpent Satan and all his demonic armies. Like Cain, the people of the world try to cover up their true nature with religious rites; but they lack faith in God’s Word. People who continue to live on this level will eventually be cast into outer darkness with Satan to suffer apart from God forever.

Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, “An Exposition of the New Testament Comprising the Entire ‘BE’ Series”–Jkt. (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989), 1 Jn 3:11.

Count Your Blessings

An American preacher told of being on a mission trip to the island of Tobago where, in a worship service, a woman requested the song, “Count Your Blessings.”  She did so by raising a hand without fingers and speaking from a face with neither nose nor ears.  She was a member of the leper colony where the service was being held.*

Erma Bombeck once wrote: “An estimated 1.5 million people are living today after bouts with breast cancer. Every time I forget to feel grateful to be among them, I hear the voice of an eight-year-old named Christina, who had cancer of the nervous system. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, she thought long and hard and finally said, ‘I don’t know. I have two sticker books and a Cabbage Patch doll. I have everything!’ The kid is right.” **

Have you counted your blessings recently?  Are you thankful?

The Amplified Bible gives this reading of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].”

Did you catch that?  “No matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks.”  It can be difficult to follow this instruction, especially if our circumstances are challenging.

But if a woman with no fingers can sing “Count Your Blessings,” can’t WE find the blessings in our own lives?  If a little girl suffering with cancer can find joy in two sticker books and a doll, can’t WE rejoice in the blessings that we have?

“In Christ Jesus,” there are countless reasons to be thankful, even in the midst of the most difficult of circumstances.

The most difficult and deadly “circumstance” is to be lost because of our sins (Matthew 7:13-14; Romans 6:23).  But God loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16; 1 Peter 2:24).  Those who accept His offer of salvation through their trusting obedience are placed “in Christ” where all spiritual blessings are enjoyed (Ephesians 1:3) – blessings like the forgiveness of sins, the hope of eternal life, peace that surpasses understanding, and being a part of God’s family.

One accepts God’s offer of salvation and is placed “in Christ” when he: places his faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turns from his sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confesses Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and is baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:27).

No matter how difficult your current circumstances may be, YOU can have every reason to be thankful if you accept God’s offer of salvation and life on His terms.

Won’t YOU?

David A. Sargent

You used WHAT word?!

After today’s a.m. service a woman said she wanted to speak with me.  This lady has been visiting with us for a short period of time and is not a member of our congregation.

This visitor wanted me to know she heard me use the word “sin” in today’s sermon and she approved.  She also told me she had not heard a preacher use this term in the last 15 or so years.  In the denominational churches she has been attending, no preacher has been willing to say the word “sin.”  She said other words not being used are judgment, hell, and righteousness.

We have come to a time when some who call themselves preachers are unwilling to say what the Bible says.  Like Isaiah’s time (30:10), people have this mindset:  “Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.”

Regardless of the culture in which we live, the words of 2 Tim. 4:1-5 will always be timely:

I charge (thee) in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:  preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.  But be thou sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry.

Brad Price

Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone?

In 1693, Thomas Shepherd wrote the song entitled, “Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone.” Two of the verses of that song read as follows:

Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
And all the world go free?
No, there’s a cross for everyone,
And there’s a cross for me.

The consecrated cross I’ll bear,
Till he shall set me free,
And then go home to wear,
For there’s a crown for me.

I like that song for several reasons, but one is that it teaches one’s cross comes before one’s crown.” That fundamental truth seems to have been lost to many people, for how often do you hear of people giving up and quitting when difficulty arises?

How often have you heard of preachers who quit preaching, elders who quit shepherding, deacons who quit serving, Bible teachers who quit teaching, and Christians who quit following Jesus because of some difficult circumstance? It happens far too frequently than it should. Let someone hurt one’s feelings and he quits. Let someone criticize one’s work, and he quits. Let someone forget to thank one for his work, and he quits.

The common thread that runs through all of these situations is that someone has forgotten that one must bear a cross before he is privileged to wear a crown! Don’t lose sight of this truth. Work comes before rest. Sacrifice comes before reward. Struggle comes before victory. And humility comes before exaltation (2 Cor. 4:17).

So what about you? Are you bearing your cross in this life, or are you spending your time kicked back, daydreaming about how your crown is going to fit? Let’s get to work. There’s much to do. We have a cross to bear. Or, must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for everyone, and there’s a cross for me.

Steve Higginbotham

Turn on the lights and it won’t be dark anymore

Presence.  We all value it whether we realize it or not.

I can remember a frequent routine that used to take place in our house when my youngest son was about six-years-old and my youngest daughter was about two-years-old.  It would be evening, the family would be upstairs, and I might ask my youngest son to retrieve something from the first floor.

He would quickly say, “But dad, no one’s down there.”  To which I would say, “I know.”  Then he would reply, “But it’s dark and the lights are out.”  I’d say, “Then turn on the lights and it won’t be dark anymore.”  Then he’d say, “But I’m afraid.”  And I’d say, “There’s nothing to be afraid of, now go on down there and get what I asked you to get.”  Finally, he would turn to his two-year-old sister and say, “Hey Anne Marie, do you want to go downstairs with me?”

Through the years, I’ve laughed about that.  I mean, what’s a two-year-old girl going to do to help you when you’re scared? (Actually, I think I figured out his logic.  I think he planned on sacrificing her to the “monster” while he made his get-away!)

Anyway, to seriously answer my question, “What’s a two-year-old girl going to do to help you when you’re scared?”  Presence.  She’ll give you her presence.  We value presence more than we may realize.  Our fears aren’t as great when we’re with someone else.  The darkness doesn’t seem quite as dark.  And our imaginations are kept in check by the presence of others.

Friends, being alone is scary!  In fact one of the frightening things about Hell is that the presence of God will not be there, and we will be all alone (2 Thessalonians 1:9).  But thank God for two-year-old little girls who will go downstairs with their older brothers, and thank God for Jesus who promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

–Steve Higginbotham

Wife wanted: No drinking, no tobacco, and under the age of 40

Do you know J.C. Baughman? Ladies, if you’re single, you might want to introduce yourselves. He’s looking for a bride—and not just looking—he’s advertising. J.C Baughman lives in Granbury, Texas, but he’s not too hard to find. He’s the one driving around town in a truck with his tailgate covered in handwritten chalk, asking for women to consider being his wife.

Now, he’s not too picky. He only has three requirements for his lady: No drinking, no tobacco, and under the age of 40. Granted, he’s not under the age of 40—he’s 65—but if you’re interested in a life of “love”, you must have been born after 1975.

At the same time, I wouldn’t call him Texas’ most eligible bachelor. He lives in a shack, has been divorced twice, and has served jail time for smoking pot. And, I can’t over emphasize that he’s advertising for a wife…on his tailgate…with chalk. How could anyone turn him down? If you’re interested, call Romeo’s number on the tailgate.

You might be wondering if I’ve gone crazy. What in the world does this have to do with a “church” article? Not much…other than this thought (and hopefully a good laugh for you)—aren’t you thankful that Christ doesn’t advertise for His bride?

The church is the “bride” of Christ (Revelation 22:17).

Because of that relationship, it makes even more sense why Paul tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).

Christ doesn’t publicly humiliate Himself for someone to accept the “marriage” relationship, nor does He need to. His death and sacrifice secured the church’s existence.

But unlike Baughman, Christ is “picky” about his bride’s qualifications. He’s not picky about who comes, because the offer is for all. He’s picky about how we come. To become part of His bride, you must be washed in His blood through baptism (Acts 2:38). You must know Him and listen to His voice (John 10:3, 14). You must have a true, healthy relationship with the groom, honoring Him in all things (Ephesians 1:22, Colossians 3:23).

If you aren’t part of the bride of Christ, Christ desperately wants you to be, but He’s not going to beg. He’s not going to advertise. He will never cheapen the beauty of the relationship.

He simply waits in love.

Will you accept His proposal?

–Jacob Hawk

Not all wounds are bad

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love, faithful are the wounds from a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy,” (Proverbs 27:5,6, ESV).

Wounds always hurt, but not all wounds are bad. A nail in the foot — dirty and jagged — is a bad wound. So it is also when two cars collide, and the fragile human bodies within are bruised and broken.

But a surgeon’s skillful cut, though the wound is painful, is calculated and designed to help in the end. The wound, cut clean and carefully, will ultimately heal.

That’s the way a friend’s “wound” is, too. The difference between the rebuke of a true friend and a false friend is easy to see. The true friend’s wound — carefully thought out, worded and reworded until the rebuke is perfect, is aimed to help.

A false friend cuts you jagged with his words, unthinking and uncaring, then pours saccharin on the wound, sweet but unhelpful. How much better to have a wise and caring friend tell you what you need to hear, and then add the cleansing antiseptic of his compassion to it.

Antiseptic stings…and cleanses!

by Stan Mitchell

What makes you angry?

“When they heard this, they were furious and

plotted to kill him” (Acts 5:33 NKJV).

 

“Then he said to me, ‘Depart, for I will

send you far from here to the Gentiles.’ And

they listened to him until this word, and

then they raised their voices and said,

‘Away with such a fellow from the earth, for

he is not fit to live'” (Acts 22:21-22).

I was in a discussion with fellow missionaries recently when the conversation turned to the psychology of mob action. One man, referring to his experiences in Islamic countries, stated, “Someone cries ‘Allah Aqbar’ and everyone starts fighting with sticks and weapons.”

There are numerous instances of this in the Bible. In Acts 5, the Jewish leaders were made angry by the claim that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. In the story told in Acts 22, Paul’s life was endangered because he dared to say that the Jews were not the only people whom God loved.

Our secular society might point to these incidents and use them to condemn religious faith. To many all believers are fanatics, willing to go to war or commit violence on behalf of their creeds. This is simply intolerable to their way of thinking.

While I certainly agree that war and violence are not appropriate ways to express Christian faith, I do find a positive lesson for us in these incidents. The Jews of the first century cared enough about their religion to respond passionately in its defense.

I must ask, how many of us are deeply enough involved in our religious beliefs to even perceive a true threat? And if we do, how many love their religion enough to defend it with such passion? As wrong as they were in so many ways, the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders were not wrong in their love for God’s Law.

Granted, they were wrong in their understanding and application of the Law. They were wrong in their personal hypocrisy. They were even wrong in their exclusive appropriation of God as belonging only to them. But they were very right in their zeal for the true God.

Genuine religion is not and never has been a promoter of unjust war and violence. When those things result from religious motives, one can be assured that men have perverted and misapplied faith.

Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Love, not hatred; peace, not wrath–these are the marks of faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ.

In all of the time he spent on this earth as a human, the only time we are told of Jesus’ demonstrating anger was because of the desecration of God’s Holy Temple (John 2:13-17). He could overlook any insult or threat to himself, but would not allow his Father to be disrespected.

Should not that also be our stance? Men cannot truly harm us (Matthew 10:28). They may destroy the body, but cannot harm our eternal soul. It is in the hands of God. He is our refuge. He deserves our worship and our love.

“I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to

be praised; So shall I be saved from my

enemies…The Lord lives! Blessed be my

Rock! Let the God of my salvation be

exalted” (Psalm 18:3, 46).

by Michael E. Brooks

ADD-ON OPTIONS

A local farmer came to the conclusion that the local car dealer had profited greatly by all the add-on options that increased the price of cars sold to the hapless farmer over the years.  Then, one day, the car dealer came to the farmer to buy a cow.  In the spirit of justice, the farmer attached the following price information to the cow:

Basic cow   $500

Two-tone exterior   $45

Extra stomach   $75

Product storing compartment   $60

Straw chopper   $120

Four spigots at $10 each,   $40

Cowhide upholstery   $125

Dual horns   $15

Automatic fly swatter   $38

Fertilizer attachment   $185

TOTAL:   $1,233.00

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t charge us for all the extras He provides us in life?  You know what I mean — the beautiful sunrise and sunset, the changing color of the leaves in fall, the glory of the stars at night, the beautiful scenery ranging from the majestic mountains to the pounding surf of the ocean.  How blessed we are!  And not a single penny extra!

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!

For His mercy endures  forever.

Oh, give thanks to the God of gods!

For His mercy endures forever.

Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!

For His mercy endures forever:

Him who alone does great wonders,

For His mercy endures forever;

To Him who by wisdom made the heavens,

For His mercy endures forever;

To Him who laid out the earth above the waters,

For His mercy endures forever;

To Him who made great lights,

For His mercy endures forever —

The sun to rule by day,

For His mercy endures forever;

The moon and stars to rule by night,

For His mercy endures forever.”   (Psalm 139:1-9)

As you go through this day, try to be mindful of each and every blessing you enjoy from the hand of God.  It is so easy to take everything for granted.  But, how richly God has blessed us!  Praise and thanksgiving be to our Lord!

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Proverbs 18:18

“The cast lot puts an end to strife and decides between the mighty ones” (Proverbs 18:18 NASB). This Proverb is probably referring to such legal cases that are drawn out and neither side is clearly right or wrong. In such cases, the casting of lots was used to settle what men could not decide (cf. Proverbs 16:33). This concept is useful in our lives as well.

If you cannot come to a common conclusion with a friend or loved one, you may need to compromise or use such matters as a coin toss or draw straws to decide the matter (as long as all parties agree on and honor the method). In addition, many waste time constantly waffling between a couple of choices never coming to a conclusion which one is better. There may not be one that is better than another, but a decision needs to be made. Sometimes we don’t know enough to make a good decision so we just have to pray, pick one, and run with it.

Jeremy Sprouse

DEALING WITH CRITICISM

A wife was making a breakfast of fried eggs for her husband.  Suddenly, her husband burst into the kitchen.

“Careful,” he said, “CAREFUL!  Put in some more butter!  Oh no!  You’re cooking too many at once.  TOO MANY!  Turn them!  TURN THEM NOW!  We need more butter.  Oh no!  WHERE are we going to get MORE BUTTER?  They’re going to STICK!  Careful.  CAREFUL!  I said be CAREFUL!  You NEVER listen to me when you’re cooking!  Never!  Turn them!  Hurry up!  Are you CRAZY?  Have you LOST your mind?  Don’t forget to salt them.  You know you always forget to salt them.  Use the salt.  USE THE SALT!  THE SALT!”

The wife stared at him. “What in the world is wrong with you?  You think I don’t know how to fry a couple of eggs?”

The husband calmly replied, “I just wanted to show you what it feels like when I’m driving.”

Criticism.  We’ve all experienced it.  Sometimes it is justified, sometimes it is not.  But none of us like it.  No one enjoys being told they are doing something wrong.

Guy Woods has written, “Inasmuch as criticism is inevitable, we must, in order to be happy, acquire an ability to rise above it.  He who is overly sensitive to the opinions of others is at the mercy of every gossiper of his acquaintance.  Some folks purr like a kitten when stroked by praise; but when criticized, they become resentful, discouraged, and quit.  It is highly essential that everyone discover a technique for dealing with the adverse opinions of others, and use it regularly and effectively.”

Let me offer several brief bits of advice when you are criticized:

(1)  Expect criticism.

Realize that the more active you are, the more criticism you will receive.  There’s an eminent British cabinet officer’s wife who is said to have kept this embroidered motto on their living room wall:  “To escape criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”  Who catches the criticism?  It’s the ones who are out there in the middle of things with their sleeves rolled up.

(2)  Criticism can serve a useful purpose.  Learn from it.

Recognize that some criticisms are certainly deserved.  Even when critics are unkind and when they exaggerate our failures, there may still be some truth in what they say.  So, when faced with criticism, we need to look at the situation honestly and ask these questions:  Is it true?  If so, how can I overcome the condition that caused it?  If not, is there something I can do to eliminate future criticism of the same type?

“The ear that hears the reproof of life will abide among the wise.  He who disdains instructions despises his own soul, but he who heeds reproof gets understanding.” (Proverbs 15:31-32)

(3)  Having gotten any benefit we can from criticism, we need to forget it.

There are times when people will criticize you and the best thing you can do is just to keep on serving God.  We’ve got to accept the fact there is no way that unfair criticism can be dealt with.  In a lot of situations, the more you may attempt to answer criticism, the worse the criticism becomes.

Paul said, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court.  In fact, I do not even judge myself.  For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but he who judges me is the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

As we receive criticism in our lives, may God help us to be honest enough and humble enough to look into our hearts and make changes that are necessary, and gracious enough to ignore that criticism which is unfair.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith