Archives for : November2017

A Love That Won’t Let Go

Bryan Chapell recalls that on August 16, 1987st 16, 1987
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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, Northwest Airlines flight 225 crashed just after taking off from the Detroit airport, killing 155 people.  One survived: a four-year-old from Tempe, Arizona, named Cecelia.

News accounts say when rescuers found Cecelia they did not believe she had been on the plane.  Investigators first assumed Cecelia had been a passenger in one of the cars on the highway onto which the airliner crashed.  But when the passenger register for the flight was checked, there was Cecelia’s name.

Cecelia survived because, even as the plane was falling, Cecelia’s mother, Paula Chican, unbuckled her own seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around Cecelia, and then would not let her go.

Nothing could separate that child from her mother’s love – neither tragedy nor disaster, neither the fall nor the flames that followed, neither height nor depth, neither life nor death.

Like that child caught in the middle of the disaster, so we have been trapped by our own sin, spiraling down to an inevitable doom.  But our God loved us so much that He left heaven, came down to our level, and covered us with the sacrifice of His own body so that we might be saved from the Fall. *

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39Romans 8:38-39
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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

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Jesus “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:241 Peter 2:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.

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Jesus gave His life for us so that we can live together with Him (1 Thessalonians 5:101 Thessalonians 5:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

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“O Love that will not let me go,

I rest my weary soul in thee;

I give thee back the life I owe,

That in thine ocean depths its flow

May richer, fuller be.”

— George Matheson

Our response to His sacrificial love should be to accept His offer of salvation and live out our lives in grateful, loving service to Him.

God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31Acts 16:30-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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).  Then, as we continue to walk in the light of His Word, the atoning blood that Jesus shed for us will continue to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:71 John 1:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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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Won’t YOU embrace the sacrificial, saving love of God through your trusting obedience?

— David A. Sargent

* From “Sacrificial Love,” taken from In the Grip of Grace by Bryan Chapell and quoted in “Five Tips for Illustrating the Atonement” by Kevin Emmert in www.preachingtoday.com

God Bless America

   “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalms 33:12Psalms 33:12
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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While the above words were spoken of Israel specifically, we make a mistake if we assume they should have no application to any nation that would choose to honor God, recognizing Him as sovereign and respecting His laws. Our nation, from its founding, and contrary to the assertions we hear so much today, has been one that has recognized God and sought His blessings.


I believe God’s protective hand has been on this country through its long history. A South America president was quoted as saying, “South America was settled by men who were seeking gold, but North America was settled by men who were seeking God.”


Through our history we have been blessed uniquely. We take for granted the freedoms we have, and the blessings other people can only dream of. But who can doubt that the Christian ideals we once honored are rapidly being eroded away? Someone once observed that we have not only gone off the gold standard, thus weakening our economy, but, more importantly, we have gone off the God-standard, jeopardizing our nation. The religion of secular humanism has become our state-religion. 


In our rush to “separate church and state”, we have succeeded in separating state from God! Many countries, once considered to be largely “Christian,” are now under the threat of Islam, and our country may not be far behind. Should we be surprised if the blessings we have cherished are lost? Are we not already in the process? For God to bless America, it is vital that America begin again to bless God.

– Ronald Bartanen

Would You Die For Jesus?

If it came to it, would you be willing to die for Jesus?  I think we all would say, “Yes, if being faithful to Jesus meant forfeiting my life, I would die for Jesus.”  However, the thing about questions like that is that in this day and age, or at least in our culture, we’re likely to never be asked to make that decision.  It’s easy to say the words, “Yes, I’d die for Jesus,” especially when I’m relatively sure I won’t ever have to do that.

But let me ask another question.  If you really are willing to die for Jesus, until you’re called upon to do so, will you live for him?  Now that’s a more relevant question.  That removes the level of our dedication to Jesus from the unlikely hypothetical to the day to day reality of our lives.

Because of this, I’m much more interested in the later question than the former.  Would you die for Jesus?  The best indication to a truthful answer to that question is in one’s willingness to live for him.   Give it some thought.

Steve Higginbotham

A beaver and a chipmunk

Townsend, the developer of the laser, was once asked if he didn’t have a tremendous sense of achievement in all he had accomplished with his invention, such as methods for precision measurements, laser disc, and weapons technology.

He remarked, “Not really.”  He said that he could easily identify with the beaver and relayed the following story:

A beaver and a chipmunk happened upon the Hoover Dam while out strolling one day. They were caught off-guard, completely overwhelmed with amazement and awe at the size and magnificence of this structure.

Once the beaver recovered, he remarked, “Well, actually, I didn’t build it myself, but it’s based upon an idea of mine.”

Like much of scientific advancement, I see spiritual growth as a building process.  I took the spiritual training my parents gave me and have built upon it, and I expect my children to take the training that I give them and build upon that.  I fully expect them to accomplish some great things in their lives, things that I may not have built myself, but which are based on spiritual principles which I have shared with them.

Paul was referring to this process when he said of Timothy, “I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.” (I Timothy 1:5).  I wonder if Lois and Eunice ever even imagined all that that little boy Timothy would accomplish in his lifetime?

You may not feel like you’re accomplishing much, but if you are instilling in your children (or others) a faith in God, who knows what they may accomplish in the years ahead!

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

There’s Nothing the Matter with Me!

There’s nothing the matter with me,
I’m just as healthy as can be,
I have arthritis in both knees,
And when I talk, I talk with a wheeze.
My pulse is weak, my blood is thin,
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.

All my teeth have had to come out,
And my diet I hate to think about.
I’m overweight and I can’t get thin,
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.

And arch supports I need for my feet,
Or I wouldn’t be able to go out in the street.
Sleep is denied me night after night,
But every morning I find I’m all right.
My memory’s failing, my head’s in a spin.
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.

Old age is golden I’ve heard it said,
But sometimes I wonder, as I go to bed.
With my ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup,
And my glasses on a shelf, until I get up.
And when sleep dims my eyes, I say to myself,
Is there anything else I should lay on the shelf?

The reason I know my youth has been spent,
Is my get-up-and-go has got-up-and-went!
But really I don’t mind, when I think with a grin,
Of all the places my get-up has been.

I get up each morning and dust off my wits,
Pick up the paper and read the obits.
If my name is missing, I’m therefore not dead,
So I eat a good breakfast and jump back into bed.

The moral of this as the tale unfolds,
Is that for you and me, who are growing old.
It is better to say, “I’m fine” with a grin,
Than to let people know the shape we are in.

I AM FINE; HOW ARE YOU?

–Original source unknown

A cheerful heart is good medicine… (Prov 17:22Prov 17:22
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

22 A cheerful heart is a good medicine; But a broken spirit drieth up the bones.

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Thankfulness helps me to be content, and at peace – and that in turn enables me to get along with others (cf. James 4:1).

Sermon: “Thanks-Living” College Ave Church of Christ
Text: Colossians 3:15-17Colossians 3:15-17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God. 17 And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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Dan Williams
Aim: to remind Christians of the benefits of a thankful heart.
Thesis: an attitude of gratitude will enrich all of life: it will help to make our RELATIONSHIPS RIGHT, to make our ATTITUDE ATTRACTIVE, and to make our LIFE LOVELY.

Introduction:

THANKSGIVING is a holiday in which we are doubly blessed. From a purely human standpoint we appreciate Thanksgiving because we get a couple of days off, we enjoy the opportunity to be with our family, and we have a socially acceptable excuse to eat a lot! Friends, that’s a combination hard to beat!

But from a spiritual perspective Thanksgiving is also a blessing because it reminds us of one of the most pleasant duties in all the Bible: the command to give thanks to God for all the good things we have received!

It is always pleasant to “Count Our Blessings” because in so doing we are reminded of the good in our life, and of the God who has gifted us so richly (James 1:17James 1:17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.

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). It is impossible for a Christian to take a sustained inventory of all for which we have to be thankful without being moved to praise.

The Bible says a great deal about “thanksgiving,” but it is the apostle Paul who, more than any other individual, returns again and again to the subjects of “thankfulness” and “gratitude.” It is a major theme of all his writings. I’m not sure why Paul was so fond of the topic of “thanksgiving”, but I suspect it has something to do with the circumstances of his conversion.

Paul was one of those people who have experienced a dramatic change in their life. He was headed down the wrong road when God unexpectedly intervened; as a result, Paul got a second chance, a chance that deep down he knew he didn’t deserve.

Now, don’t get me wrong – we’re all sinners: none of us “deserve” to be saved. But I DO believe some people have a strong sense of how their life could have turned out differently had they not found the Lord– and I believe Paul was one of those fortunate Christians who never take their salvation for granted, who never quite get over the “wonder” of God’s marvelous grace, and consequently he was grateful for the rest of his life.
Whatever the reason, we do know that Paul’s letters are punctuated with expressions of thankfulness and exhortations to bethankful. For example, TURN to the little book of Colossians, the setting for today’s text. In just four chapters Paul manages to speak of “thanksgiving”, “joy”, and “gratitude” 10 times! In fact, he mentions the subject in every chapter!

In Chapter 1 Paul begins in verse 3 by thanking God for the faith and love of the Colossian saints. Later, in verse 12 of that same chapter, he encourages them to give thanks!

Notice in Chapter Two how Paul describes the Christian life: v. 6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing withthanksgiving.”

Later, in Chapter 4 Paul gives one final reminder to “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (4:2).

And in Chapter 3, in our text for today, he mentions “thankfulness” 3 times in 3 consecutive verses! And each verse reminds of us one of the BENEFITS of thanksgiving! We’ll see that an ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE is always good for us, because:

BODY:

I. IT MAKES OUR RELATIONSHIPS RIGHT!

Verse 15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

For years I read this verse without comprehending the significance of those last three words – “and be thankful.” I thought they were just “tacked on”, added “for good measure” (like when you’re following a recipe for cookies or cake, and it calls for a “pinch of salt”). I didn’t understand the connection between “thankfulness” and Paul’s subject. But, look at the context:

• v. 12-14 RELATIONSHIPS
• v. 15a “peace of Christ in your hearts” (INDIVIDUAL ATTITUDE)
• v. 15b “members of one body” (CONGREGATION HARMONY).
Then one day it hit me! Paul says “and be thankful” because an attitude of gratitude helps create harmony among brethren. That is, if I have peace WITHIN me, then I can experience HARMONY with others!

Thankfulness helps me to be content, and at peace – and that in turn enables me to get along with others (cf. James 4:1James 4:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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

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). A grateful person is going to be a POSITIVE person, and a positive person is not looking for a fight, isn’t quarrelsome or contentious! Ungrateful people, on the other hand, are going to be dissatisfied with themselves and unhappy with others, and they will cause resentment wherever they go.

STORY: A man writing at a post-office desk was approached by an elderly fellow who asked, “Young man, I can’t see very well: could I ask you to address this postcard for me?” “Yes sir, I’d be glad to.” “And while you’re at it, would you put this stamp on it?” “Sure, no problem.” “One other thing: could you write out my message on the back?” So the man gladly took down the message he dictated. Then the man asked, “Now, would you sign my name?” The man dutifully signed the older man’s name, held up the card and said, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

The old fellow looked at the card, thought a moment, then ordered, “Yes. Add this at the end: ‘P.S. Please excuse the sloppy handwriting.’”

Look at it this way – who would you rather associate with: someone who is always grumbling and complaining – or someone who is optimistic and cheerful? People who routinely recite their burdens in life – or people who continually count their blessings?

You know the answer! When people go to a pet shop to buy a bird, they’re looking for a songbird – a parakeet, or a cockatiel, or a finch. I’ve never heard of anyone going into a pet shop and asking for a buzzard! No one wants to be around a person who always looks for the rotten in life! An ungrateful person is never at peace – not with himself, not with others!

So, the first thing thankfulness does is to make our RELATIONSHIPS RIGHT – it keeps us from becoming sour, bitter, hard-to-get-along-with grumblers! “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
II. IT MAKES OUR ATTITUDES ATTRACTIVE!

Verse 16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God”.

Note first: WE CAN CHOOSE OUR ATTITUDES! If we can choose to “LET the word of Christ dwell in (us) richly” – then we have the ability determine what we will think about, focus on, what we will dwell on in life! Look back at verses 1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Setyour minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

I have a friend in Virginia who has an unusual radio in his office– he received it from a local radio station many years ago as part of their promotional campaign. It was FREE – but there was a “catch”: it could only pick up that specific station! His radio only had one setting!

Have you noticed how many folks go through life with the same problem? They are only “tuned in” to the trials and troubles that come their way. That’s ALL they can focus on! Thank God we can have more than one “setting”! Difficulties will come, but by faith we can choose to “set our minds on things above”, to “let the Word of Christ dwell in (us) richly.”

Note second: WE CAN CHOOSE AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE! Thankful people have a healthier perspective on life, because gratitude causes us to focus on our blessings, not our burdens. Without a sense of gratitude, we can never experience the blessing of contentment.

Some friends were planning a shopping trip and their four-year-old daughter had some birthday money and chore money to spend. My friends are good Christian parents, and wanting to use this as an opportunity to teach a lesson in perspective, they told their daughter: “Now, we don’t need to buy everything we see – we need to be thankful for what we have.” The girl replied“When I have EVERYTHING I want, THEN I’ll be thankful for what I have.” Now that isn’t unexpected logic for a four-year-old; but you know, there are a lot of 40-year-olds who feel the same way, and it absolutely makes them miserable!

When we have an attitude of gratitude, when we choose to focus on what we DO have, and be thankful for God’s goodness, it sure improves our perspective on life! GRATITUDE is the ATTITUDE that makes life GREAT! And the third reason thankfulness is good for us:

III. IT MAKES LIFE LOVELY!

Verse 17 “and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

This is the third verse in a row in which Paul commends “thankfulness.” Do you think perhaps he’s trying to tell us something? Well, in case we haven’t gotten the message by now, in this verse he makes it unmistakably clear: WE CAN ALWAYS HAVE AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE!

Consider what a comprehensive command this is! “WHATEVER you do…whether in word or deed…ALL”. God’s Word is emphatically telling us “thanksgiving” is not just a holiday- it’s a way of life! In fact, we could say it’s more than “thanks-giving”- it’s “thanks-LIVING”!

No matter what life throws at us, we can choose to be positive – to focus on our blessings! That reminds us of another passage by Paul:

Philippians 4:4-7Philippians 4:4-7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

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“Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I say, Rejoice!…Do not be anxious about anything, but ineverything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, presents your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (cf. Ephesians 5:20Ephesians 5:20
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

20 giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;

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As children of a gracious Father (cf. Matthew 7:7-11Matthew 7:7-11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone; 10 or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

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) we know that in difficult situations we can ask for help and be confident that our Lord is willing and able to answer prayer. But note HOW we are to make those requests – “with thanksgiving”.

Why? Could it be that whining, demanding, self-pitying people are tiresome – even to God? Self-centered prayers must weary the Lord, because he knows that blessing UNGRATEFUL people is a waste of time – they’ll only find something else to grumble about!
In one part of Mexico, because of a geothermal quirk deep underground, a hot spring and a cold spring can be found bubbling up side by side. Years ago the women of the nearby village could be seen boiling their clothes in the water of the hot springs and rinsing them in the cold springs. A tourist, watching this procedure, remarked to his Mexican friend, “I guess they think old Mother Nature is pretty generous.”

“Oh no, senor”, the other replied. “There is much grumbling because she supplies no soap.”

Well, God wants to rescue us from the prison of such pettiness – so he commands us to be thankful, in part for our own benefit! When you think of it that way, its just another reminder of how good God is – we can even be thankful he commands us to be thankful, because an attitude of gratitude makes life lovely!

CONCLUSION:

This is the time of year when we are reminded of our blessings – but our text teaches us that for children of God “thanksgiving” is more than a holiday- it is a way of life! It is, if you will, “Thanks-Living.” And this morning we have been reminded why an ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE is good for us:

• It makes our RELATIONSHIPS RIGHT.
• It makes our ATTITUDES ATTRACTIVE.
• It makes our LIFE LOVELY.

STORY: Some years ago Keith Obraske of Fridley, Minnesota went to an ATM machine just before Thanksgiving to withdraw $20- instead, the machine spit out $5,580! “I felt like I’d won the lottery,” said the young man who works as a ceiling sprayer. “I just kept scooping it up!” That’s a parable of MY life- and YOURS! All of us have received so much more than we ever expected- deserved- or earned.

By the way, Obraske did the honest and honorable thing- he gave the money back! God doesn’t require us to return all of his bounty- just a part. But He DOES ask for one very important response in return- AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE!

James 4:1James 4:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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

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52 Ways to Begin Changing Your Life Today

(No-Cost or Low Cost)

  •     Do it!
  •     Stop Complaining!
  •     Serve someone less fortunate
  •     Collect quotes
  •     Volunteer
  •     Mentor a child
  •     Do something without personal glory
  •     Turn off the news
  •     Get rid of the stuff in your home (6 month rule)
  •     Make cookies for a neighbor
  •     Organize a neighborhood cookout
  •     Send one encouraging card a day
  •     Write a nice note and do not sign it
  •     Cut a neighbor’s yard
  •     Rake someone else’s leaves
  •     Offer to babysit for a young couple
  •     Stop checking email
  •     Attend church services
  •     Assist someone carry groceries to their car
  •     Put the buggy back at a supermarket
  •     Buy your wife flowers or your husband a box of chocolate
  •     Take your children to breakfast before school
  •     Send your parents a thank you note for raising you
  •     Buy someone’s dessert in a restaurant
  •     Leave a large tip
  •     Paint a picture and hang it in the living room
  •     Grow a garden and share your vegetables with others
  •     Plant flowers
  •     Bake a cake with your children and deliver it to the elderly.
  •     Take a walk and think
  •     Let someone in while in traffic
  •     Turn off the radio while driving and listen to the wind
  •     Read a book about something you disagree with
  •     Print photos you have taken and make a photo collage.
  •     Write “your story”
  •     Learn a new hobby
  •     Fast for a day
  •     Clean your closet out and donate your clothes to the homeless
  •     Plant a tree
  •     Giveaway some extra jewelry you have to a single mother
  •     Call your parents and tell them ‘Thank You”
  •     Volunteer to speak at school regarding your profession or hobby
  •     Donate your used cell phone to a woman’s shelter or a solider overseas
  •     Pay for a couple to attend a marriage retreat. (Do so anonymously)
  •     Take off work early and spend time with your family.
  •     Write a letter to a soldier and tell them how great a job they are doing. (http://www.adoptaussoldier.org/)
  •     Smile
  •     Donate school supplies to children in need.
  •     Send a widow some flowers
  •     Read 1 book a month
  •     Begin journaling
  •     Turn off your computer for a day and get out of the chair.

Changing the world does not start with a gigantic event, it starts with you and what you can do at this moment.

Chris Gallagher

My grandfather just died

EXPECTATIONS OF JESUS

 

After being with his blind date all evening, the man couldn’t take another minute with her.  Earlier, he had secretly arranged to have a friend call him to the phone so he would have an excuse to leave if something like this happened.

When he returned to the table, he lowered his eyes, put on a grim expression and said, “I have some bad news.  My grandfather just died.”

“Thank goodness,” his date replied. “If yours hadn’t, mine would have had to!”

I am so glad that I don’t have to deal with the “dating scene” — worrying about making a good first impression so that I can meet her expectations and trying to deal with the awkwardness of the situation if she’s doesn’t meet my expectations.  That’s especially the problem with “blind dates”, something I managed to avoid altogether in my dating years.  You get an image in your mind of what your date is going to be like (or what you hope she’s going to be like), and it often doesn’t take much to shatter that misconception.  Granted, your date could possibly turn out to be better than you expected, but it seldom seems to work out that way.

That was a problem that Jesus faced when he came to this earth.  He should have been greeted with open arms — after all, he was the long-awaited Messiah.  The problem is that the Jews had expectations of what the Messiah would be like.  For most of the Jews, that preconception involved an earthly king who would boot the Romans out of the land and assume control.  In fact, they were quite prepared to make Jesus that king (John 6:15John 6:15
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15 Jesus therefore perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force, to make him king, withdrew again into the mountain himself alone.

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Even without that misconception, though, none of the Jews could imagine a Messiah hanging on a cross.  So the cross became a “stumbling block” to the Jews and “foolishness” to the Greeks (I Cor. 1:23).  Jesus didn’t meet their expectations and they hurried to find a way to end the relationship.

Philip Yancey deals with this topic in his book “The Jesus I Never Knew”. He speaks of his own misconceptions of Jesus at an early age:  “I recalled the Sunday school image of Jesus that I grew up with:  someone kind and reassuring, with no sharp edges at all — a Mister Rogers before the age of children’s television.”  Certainly Jesus was kind and reassuring, but he was so much more than that — he was a man who was strong (physically and emotionally) and passionate.

What’s important is that we allow the Gospels to define who Jesus was, and not expect him to measure up to our preconceived ideas.  I challenge you to read the Gospels in a fresh light.  Remove all expectations and allow the Word of God to define and shape who Jesus was.  I guarantee the Messiah will turn out to be better than you expected!

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14John 1:14
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14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us , full of grace and truth.

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Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Avoid this rut or you’ll be in it for the next 25 miles!

In the Register and Tribune Syndicate, Frank Clark writes:

Years ago when the western U.S. was being settled, roads were often just wagon tracks. These rough trails posed serious problems for those who journeyed on them. On one of these winding paths was posted a sign which read: “Avoid this rut or you’ll be in it for the next 25 miles!”

A habit is something you can do without thinking–which is why most of us have so many of them.

A habit is one of the components that shapes and molds our character.

I remember hearing that from a thought you have an action, from an action comes a habit, from the habit comes a character, and from the character is a destiny.

What are some of the habits that you have that are currently shaping your character and ultimately leading you to a certain destiny?

  • What about your words? Words show what’s in a person’s heart. Does your speech indicate a heart of purity, mercy, kindness, love, and holiness? Or, are your words vulgar, constantly critical, hateful and ungodly? The Bible says, But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Mt. 12:36Mt. 12:36
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    36 And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

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  • What about your body? When we think of bad habits, we often refer to things like smoking, drinking, and drugs. While, these are certainly bad habits, they’re not the only bad ones that have a negative impact on the physical body. We often shy away from discussing poor eating habits and lack of physical activity, out of fear of offending. But the reality is, when we overeat and sit all day, we’re not doing our body any favors. The Bible teaches that bodily exercise is profitable (1 Tm. 4:81 Tm. 4:8
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    8 for bodily exercise is profitable for a little; but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come.

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    ), and that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:191 Cor. 6:19
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    19 Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own;

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  • What about your spirit? Are you engaging your soul in practices that will strengthen your Christian character? Do you read your Bible daily (Acts 17:11Acts 17:11
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    11 Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so.

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    )? Are you regular with your prayer life (1 Thes. 5:171 Thes. 5:17
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    17 pray without ceasing;

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    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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Horace Mann said, “Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it every day, and at last we cannot break it.”

Today, what threads will you weave that will shape who you will ultimately become and where you will eventually go?

I hope you have a totally awesome day!

–Neil Richey

Will we respect the Presidency?

A sister in Christ was vocal about her political beliefs. She filled her time with political television and radio. It was the center of her being.

One Sunday in Bible Class, we came to Peter’s command to “Honor the king” (1 Peter 2:171 Peter 2:17
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17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

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). She scoffed and with a disgusted look said she refused to honor the President. We then looked at Paul’s insistence that we pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-21 Timothy 2:1-2
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2 1 I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; 2 for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity.

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Only hate can cause us to look God in the eyes and defy him because of the way we feel about a human being. We can lose our souls because of this attitude. We cannot be in Christ if we have hate in our hearts (1 John 1:5; 2:91 John 1:5; 2:9
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5 And this is the message which we have heard from him and announce unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 9 He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother, is in the darkness even until now.

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Jonah hated the people of Nineveh and refused to take the Word to them (Jonah 1:1-3Jonah 1:1-3
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Jonah 1 1 Now the word of Jehovah came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of Jehovah; and he went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of Jehovah.

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). God got his attention before he begrudgingly complied (Jonah 3).

Hate fills our eyes with blood and we are unable to see the good in those we disdain. We assign evil motives to them no matter what they do.

Hate breeds suspicion and superiority. They are trapped in our web of delusion and we become a prison warden holding them in a maximum security super-cell.

As Christians, we must examine ourselves to determine our strengths and weaknesses. Sports, religion and politics are areas that can magnify character flaws. We must keep our heads and remember we are Christians before we are anything.

Christians can become filled with hatred and hostility as they use the Bible as a weapon of destruction.

Instead of leading people to heaven, they want to send more people to hell.

Satan will take our weaknesses and manifest them. If politics or sports makes Satan’s job easier, then we must abandon sports and politics (Exodus 20:3-5Exodus 20:3-5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them, for I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate me,

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29 And if thy right eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand causeth thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body go into hell.

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). Whatever we place in front of God, no matter how harmless or altruistic it may appear, has to be banished.

Nero was in power when Peter said to honor the king. He would eventually execute Peter and Paul. He blamed Christian for the burning of Rome and had some of his family executed to protect his power. Two leaders before Nero was Caligula, who was criminally insane.

Josef Stalin killed 40 million people. Hitler killed nine million in the Holocaust and millions more in World War II. Pol Pot killed one-third of Cambodia’s population and Idi Amin Dad killed more than half a million Ugandans.

We have never had a President who was in the league of these maniacs. The person in power is immaterial because God ordained the office, not the man.

In Romans 13, Paul outlines very clearly the responsibility we have as citizens. In 13:1, “every soul” is emphatic in Greek and refers to “every living being.” No one is immune.

The authority of government is “ordained” of God and we must respect it. If we disobey the government we disobey God. When our government aligns itself against God’s, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29Acts 5:29
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29 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, We must obey God rather than men.

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, NKJV; cf. Proverbs 14:34Proverbs 14:34
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34 Righteousness exalteth a nation; But sin is a reproach to any people.

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17 The wicked shall be turned back unto Sheol, Even all the nations that forget God.

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If these leaders conduct themselves contrary to God’s will, then we must continue to pray for them and to be more active in spreading the Truth of God’s Word. While it is unlikely that any of our Presidents will be Christians that does not change God’s directive to obey and honor our President.

We must be Christians first in everything. Whatever we do that endangers that goal must be banished from our lives because Christ must always have the glory (Ephesians 3:20-21Ephesians 3:20-21
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20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen.

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by Richard Mansel

DOES GOD KNOW ABOUT THIS?

There’s a couple in Arkansas who gave their six-year-old son strict instructions to come home from playing every afternoon no later than 5 p.m.  He is allowed to play with his friends, but his parents are quite serious about his curfew. If he’s not home by 5 p.m., they begin to worry and call around the neighborhood to find out where he is. The boy knows this, though, and is careful to arrive every day on time.

One April Monday, however, the day after Daylight Saving Time went into effect, the boy was late coming home. When he finally arrived, a few minutes before 6 p.m., his mother scolded him for being late. “You know you are to be home by five,” she said, “and here it is nearly six.”

Puzzled, the little boy pointed out the window. “But the light,” he protested, “the light; it’s the light that tells me when to come home.”  Realizing what had happened, his mother smiled and gently explained that the day before the time had been changed, that everyone had reset their clocks and, now, the daylight lasted longer.

The boy’s eyes narrowed.  “Does God know about this?” he asked suspiciously.

It’s easy to see why a young boy would ask such a question, but no matter what the circumstance prompting the question, the answer to “Does God know about this?” is always, “Yes, He knows.”  David reflected on this quality of God in Psalm 139:

“Lord, you have examined me and know all about me.  You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I think them.  You know where I go and where I lie down. You know thoroughly everything I do.  Lord, even before I say a word, you already know it.  You are all around me — in front and in back — and have put your hand on me. Your knowledge is amazing to me; it is more than I can understand.” (Psalm 139:1-6Psalm 139:1-6
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For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. 139 1 O Jehovah, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising; Thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, And art acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word in my tongue, But, lo, O Jehovah, thou knowest it altogether. 5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, And laid thy hand upon me. 6  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain unto it.

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At times, it is a bit frightening to realize that God knows so much about me, but ultimately it is a comforting thought — that someone knows so much about me, yet still loves me.  Because God knows me so well, He knows my deepest needs.  May you take comfort this day in the realization that God knows everything about you there is to know, and that He loves you dearly.

Have a great day!

 

Alan Smith

The one who did wrong is responsible for the wrong

WHEN YOU FORGIVE, you’re saying nothing about the responsibility of the one who did wrong…

The one who did wrong is responsible for the wrong, period.

Forgiving someone does not absolve that person of responsibility for her or his actions.

It does take the relationship out of the mode where one punishes the other, but it shouldn’t diminish the responsibility for the wrong that was done.  Howard Markman, Scott Stanley, Susan L. Blumberg, “Forgiveness and the Restoration of Intimacy,” Fighting for Your Marriage, 219

“And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”  Luke 11:4Luke 11:4
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4 And forgive us our sins; for we ourselves also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And bring us not into temptation.

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Mike Benson

 

Women carrying heavy loads of wood piled on their backs

AN ADDED BURDEN

I read once about a missionary who was living in Africa. He was disturbed over something he was seeing. The women walked around with heavy loads of wood piled on their backs. Their husbands, on the other hand, carried nothing more than a walking stick and walked several yards in front of them. It was considered an honor for the women to carry these heavy loads for their husbands.

Feeling sorry for them, this missionary saw a need for some wheelbarrows. So he sent a telegram back to the United States, ordering 200 of them to be shipped immediately. When they arrived, he showed the women how to load the wood in the wheelbarrows.

A few weeks later, he returned to the village to find the wheelbarrows all parked in a neat row — unused. He asked, “Why aren’t you using them?” One woman explained, “Well, you see, when we got the wheelbarrows loaded and all of that up on our backs, they were just too heavy!”

That incident suggests the way a lot of people have experienced religion. It holds out a promise to them of a fuller, richer life where all their problems will disappear. In reality, it just brings additional burdens — one more thing to do, one more thing to worry about.

That’s the way, in fact, that the Pharisees saw religion — a list of rules to be kept, a pile of commands that they saw as their responsibility to enforce. Jesus rebuked them, saying, “You load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46Luke 11:46
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46 And he said, Woe unto you lawyers also! for ye load men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

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But Jesus offered something that the Jews found nowhere else – a relief from those burdens.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30Matthew 11:28-30
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28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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Do you find religion is a burden for you, or have you discovered the “rest” that Jesus intends his followers to know?

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

 

So listen to this, please.

Do a little exercise for me, would you please? Find your pocket dictionary, and look up the word “worship.”

 

My Webster’s says: “Honor, dignity, worship. See worth & ship.” Other terms the dictionary gives include, “reverence, devotion to a deity, a church service or other rite showing this, extreme devotion or intense love and admiration.”

Now do something else. Look at the words which precede and follow “worship” in your dictionary. These include “worn,” “Worn-out,” “worry,” “worrywart,” “worse” and “wound.”

I find a certain irony in that!

I am convinced that one day it will be proven scientifically that Saturday evenings are actually several hours shorter than other evenings and that pollen which causes drowsiness is emitted every Sunday morning!

Scientists will also find that inanimate objects such as children’s socks, Bibles and lesson plans conceal themselves when we are already late and in a rush to get to church.

And of course it’s on Sundays as we pull out of our driveways that we remember the stove was still on! It’s as if some gremlin was determined to make our preparation for worship a harried and chaotic experience!

So listen to this, please.

If you come to services flustered and upset, come! If you come a little late, come! If you come fearful or heartbroken, come! There is a reason why some call the auditorium (that cold, Latin noun) a “sanctuary.” This time and place should be one of refuge and comfort from the turmoil of the outside.

Here our brethren meet our fears with a gentle touch.  Here we enter the presence of God, who is merciful and loving. Here we can cast our anxieties at the foot of the cross. Bring in those fears and frustrations, and lay them at his feet.

That’s what he intended.

“Come to me all who labor and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest. Take my
yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am
gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find
rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28,29Matthew 11:28,29
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28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

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ESV).

 by Stan Mitchell

SHEPHERDS AND BUTCHERS

A preacher was taking a group of Christians on a tour of the Holy Land.  He had just read them the parable of the good shepherd and was explaining to them that, as they continued their tour, they would see shepherds on the hillsides just as in Jesus’ day.  He wanted to impress the group, so he told them what every good preacher tells his people about shepherds.  He described how, in the Holy Land, shepherds always lead their sheep, always walking in front to face dangers, always protecting the sheep by going ahead of them.

He barely got the last word out when, sure enough, they rounded a corner and saw a man and his sheep on the hillside.  There was only one problem: the man wasn’t leading the sheep as the preacher had said.  No, he was behind the sheep and seemed to be chasing them.

The preacher turned red.  Flabbergasted, he ran over to the fence and said, “I always thought shepherds in this region led their sheep — out in front.  And I told my people that a good shepherd never chases his sheep.”

The man replied, “That’s absolutely true… you’re absolutely right… but I’m not the shepherd, I’m the butcher!”

May this story serve as a reminder to those of you who serve as shepherds (pastors) of God’s people.  It is a point made clear in Peter’s writings as well:

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” (I Peter 5:2-3)

May those of you who serve as shepherds strive always to be in front of the flock, leading by example, rather than driving it from behind.  And may those of you who are are part of the flock follow whole-heartedly those who are true shepherds and be wary of those whose motives are sinister — there are butchers out there as well as shepherds!

Alan Smith

At a very early age my mother taught me a child’s prayer:

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born and a time to die………(Ecclesiaste3:1-2)

 Just as there was a time when we were born, there will also come a time when we will die. We know not the time of our death; we know not the place of our death nor do we know what the cause of our death will be but one thing is an absolute certainty, we will die (Ecclesiastes 3:2Ecclesiastes 3:2
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2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

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Hebrews 9:27Hebrews 9:27
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27 And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment;

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). Hence the need to make adequate preparation for that day when we shed these earthly bonds and fly away to the eternity that awaits (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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12 So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.

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10 For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

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At a very early age my mother taught me a child’s prayer:

“Now I lay me down to sleep,  I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take”

While this is known as a child’s prayer, I believe there is something in it that serves as a most solemn warning to all of us. It just seems to this writer that countless numbers of people are expecting the day of their death to bring about some kind of extraordinary change for them that they will not make while alive. Many are those who have heard the gospel of Christ proclaimed time and time again and will say that they believe in God yet continue to reject his word. Great masses of people expect to stand before their God in the judgment and hear that they have been forgiven when they have not been obedient to him (Heb. 5:8-9Heb. 5:8-9
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8 though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation;

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; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; 22 Thess. 1:7-9; 2
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7 and to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, 8 rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: 9 who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 2 1 Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him; 2 to the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is just at hand; 3 let no man beguile you in any wise: for it will not be, except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, 4 he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know that which restraineth, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work: only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming; 9  even he, whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: 12 that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, for that God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 whereunto he called you through our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours. 16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

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John 9). God’s laws are inviolate; don’t expect to be saved eternally without complying with them (Matt. 7:21-23Matt. 7:21-23
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21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

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46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

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). After death it will be too late to believe. too late to repent, too late to confess, too late to be baptized for remission of sins (Mark 16:16Mark 16:16
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16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

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: Acts 2:38Acts 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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: Rom. 10:10Rom. 10:10
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10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

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; Acts 22:16Acts 22:16
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16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.

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). After death it will be too late to do those things we know we should do (James 4:17James 4:17
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17 To him therefore that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

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, 1 Cor. 15:581 Cor. 15:58
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58 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord.

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); too late to be faithful (Rev.2:10). After death it will be too late to do those things that will put you into Christ. Hear Paul as he proclaims, “behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:22 Cor. 6:2
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2 (for he saith, At an acceptable time I hearkened unto thee, And in a day of salvation did I succor thee: behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation):

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). To die out of Christ and expect to be saved eternally is to expect the impossible. One day you were somebody’s little boy, somebody’s little girl and perhaps you were taught to pray this child’s prayer. Today, even though you are no longer a little boy or little girl, if you are in Christ, you can pray this little prayer with a fervent knowing that one day this weak, frail human body will be changed into a body most glorious (1 Cor. 15:42-581 Cor. 15:42-58
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42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law: 57 but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord.

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To God be the glory forever and ever.

Charles Hicks

What good is Christianity?

Christianity is really under attack at this time in our world.  Especially in our country. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. If you set back and be nothing, or do nothing, have no opinions or thoughts that differ from those which are deemed “politically correct,” then you will be left alone. If however you have strong beliefs and either act upon them or express them, you can expect to be attacked. That’s the nature of Satan and those who have been persuaded to believe as he teaches.

It is interesting to see and hear those who are on the side of evil, those who proclaim that God is dead, or that the Bible is no longer relevant or is outdated, screaming out their hateful criticism of Christians. However let me remind you that being a Christian is more than just wearing a name, it is a life style, it is woven through our belief in what is morally right or wrong. It effects our relationship to our world and those who share this world with us.

The following story makes a good point: A preacher and the president of a soap manufacturing company went for a walk together. The president said, “What good is Christianity? Look at all the trouble and misery of the world! Look at the anger, at the division among people. It’s still there, even after years, thousands of years, of teaching about goodness and truth and love and peace. Still there, after all the sermons and teachings. If Christianity is good and true, why should this be?” The preacher said nothing.

They continued walking until he noticed a child playing in the gutter. Then the preacher said, “Look at that child. You say that soap makes people clean, but see the dirt on that youngster. Of what good is soap? With all the soap in the world, over all these years, the child is still filthy. I wonder how effective soap is, after all!”

The president of the soap company protested, “But preacher, soap cannot do any good unless it is used!” “Exactly,” replied the preacher. “Exactly.”

You may not be able to change much of the world, you may not be able to stop all of the hate that is being directed towards those of us who claim to be Christians, but just like with dirt, you have to start washing somewhere. Little by little the whole body becomes clean if we don’t stop washing….

Of course the washing starts with ourselves. Peter wrote long ago, “to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also, not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” (1 Peter 3:20-211 Peter 3:20-21
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20 that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water: 21 which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ;

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What good is Christianity? It gives us a moral compass that points to God! It makes us clean and it saves those eternally who are washed clean, (1 Corinthians 6:9-111 Corinthians 6:9-11
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9 Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

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–Russ Lawson

A Proverb for the Day (19:17)

“One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, And He will repay him for his good deed” (Proverbs 19:17Proverbs 19:17
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17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto Jehovah, And his good deed will he pay him again.

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NASB).

Helping the poor is a good investment. God takes it personally how we treat the poor and unfortunate (cf. Matthew 25:40, 45Matthew 25:40, 45
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40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me. 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least, ye did it not unto me.

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). If we are to truly be His servants, we must show kindness to the poor. God will not let such actions go unrewarded (cf. Hebrews 6:10Hebrews 6:10
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10 for God is not unrighteous to forget your work and the love which ye showed toward his name, in that ye ministered unto the saints, and still do minister.

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by Jeremy Sprouse

Leopoldo Ducany

I read an article about a gentleman from the Philippines by the name of Leopoldo Ducany.

One afternoon, Leopoldo’s wife brought him a fish which she had purchased at the local market.  She asked him to clean it so she might prepare it for supper.  The meal-to-be was wrapped in a year-old newspaper.  As he tore away the paper, Leopoldo noticed an ad for a free Bible study.  The ad prompted a response, and before long, he was regularly receiving Bible correspondence materials.

At the conclusion of the series of lessons, Leopoldo requested baptism and was added to the body of Christ (Acts 2:47Acts 2:47
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47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved.

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Galatians 3:27Galatians 3:27
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27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

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).  He made this decision to follow the Lord despite the obvious anti-church sentiment held by Communist rebels in his region.

THOUGHT:  If we can (a) reach a man on the other side of the world with (b) a year-old newspaper wrapped around a dead snapper, then (c) don’t you think we can reach our local communities with the saving message of Christ…?

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19Matthew 28:19
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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:

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; cf. Acts 1:8Acts 1:8
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8 But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

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Mike Benson

 

You probably need a renewed outlook.

CAUGHT IN THE vise of depressive feelings, Elijah felt like the loneliest man in the world…

“So he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword.  I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (1 Kings 19:141 Kings 19:14
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14 And he said, I have been very jealous for Jehovah, the God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

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Depressed, and desiring nothing more than a quick exit from life, Elijah somehow imagined he was the last godly man on the planet.  He felt as if he had no support–even though he had just been part of a fantastic miracle and gained the rousing support of God’s people.  He had allowed one evil woman to fill up his whole radar screen and ruin his outlook.  But then God shared some information that must have stunned the melancholy prophet:

Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:181 Kings 19:18
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18 Yet will I leave me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

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God was saying, “I have 7,000 on your side, and you’re letting one person sound like a million.”  Wayne Cordeiro, “Early Warning Signs,” Leading on Empty, 62-63

THOUGHT:  Elijah wasn’t alone, but that’s how he felt.  Discouragement distorted his view of reality and he lost perspective.  Are you discouraged?  You probably need a renewed outlook.  All of us get discouraged, feel overwhelmed weary at some juncture in our lives.  Jesus says, “You’re not alone…”

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30Matthew 11:28-30
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28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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Mike Benson