How Committed are You to Jesus?

          Sam Houston was a good friend of President Andrew Jackson. They shared the same desire of Texas independence and admission into the union of the United States. President Jackson looked on Houston as a son and Houston returned the affection. On one occasion, Houston wrote a letter to President Jackson saying,

 

          “My firm and undeviating attachment to General Jackson has caused me all the enemies I have, and I glory in the firmness of my attachment. I will die proud in the assurance that I deserve, and possess, his perfect confidence.” (Magnificent Destiny, Paul I. Wellman, 1962, page 177).

 

          How committed are we to Jesus? As committed as Houston was to President Jackson? Could we honestly say that the only enemies we have are because of our attachment to Jesus Christ and His doctrine? Due to this commitment, Houston believed Jackson could have confidence in him. Can Jesus have confidence in us because of our commitment to His truth? Is truth safe in our hands?

 

          In 2 Samuel 23:13-172 Samuel 23:13-17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 And three of the thirty chief men went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam; and the troop of the Philistines was encamped in the valley of Rephaim. 14 And David was then in the stronghold; and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Beth-lehem. 15 And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me water to drink of the well of Beth-lehem, which is by the gate! 16 And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto Jehovah. 17 And he said, Be it far from me, O Jehovah, that I should do this: shall I drink the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did the three mighty men.

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, King David was in battle with the Philistines. He laments of his thirst. Hearing that, three mighty men break through the camp of the Philistines, defying death and loving David’s life more than their own, and draw water from a well in Bethlehem to bring it to David. The King actually pours out the water as a drink offering to God.

 

          How committed are you to Jesus? As committed as King David’s men were to him? Will we stand up for His truth regardless of the cost? Think of Paul’s words in Acts 21:13Acts 21:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 Then Paul answered, What do ye, weeping and breaking my heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

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: “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

 

          How committed are you to Jesus?

 

–Paul Holland

How sad to come to the end of your life and others not have anything good to say about you!

THE REASON WE REMEMBER GREAT PEOPLE

These are reported to be actual epitaphs on tombstones:

Here lies

Johnny Yeast

Pardon me

For not rising.   (Ruidoso, New Mexico)

 

Here lays Butch,

We planted him raw.

He was quick on the trigger,

But slow on the draw.   (Silver City, Nevada)

 

Anna Wallace

The children of Israel wanted bread

And the Lord sent them manna,

Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife,

And the Devil sent him Anna.  (Ribbesford, England)

 

Margaret Daniels

She always said her feet were killing her

but nobody believed her.   (Richmond, Virginia)

 

Anna Hopewell

Here lies the body of our Anna

Done to death by a banana

It wasn’t the fruit that laid her low

But the skin of the thing that made her go.

(Enosburg Falls, Vermont)

 

Harry Edsel Smith

Born 1903–Died 1942

Looked up the elevator shaft to see if

the car was on the way down. It was.    (Albany, New York)

 

An anonymous tombstone:

I was somebody.

Who, is no business

Of yours.       (Stowe, Vermont)

 

In Memory of Beza Wood

Departed this life

Nov. 2, 1837

Aged 45 yrs.

Here lies one Wood

Enclosed in wood

One Wood

Within another.

The outer wood

Is very good:

We cannot praise

The other.    (Winslow, Maine)

How sad to come to the end of your life and others not have anything good to say about you!  Hebrews 11 could be viewed as a collection of epitaphs of many who had died.  The chapter starts with these words:

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.” (Hebrews 11:1-2Hebrews 11:1-2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 1 Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen. 2 For therein the elders had witness borne to them.

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I like how the New Century Version translates verse 2:  “Faith is the reason we remember great people who lived in the past.”  That’s true, isn’t it?  Every single person in the Bible we regard as “great” was a man or woman of faith.  That faith made a difference in the way they lived and responded to God.  That’s why we remember them.

May your life be characterized by faith in God so that those who prepare your tombstone won’t struggle with finding something kind to say.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

 

Have you ever heard of Quartus?

We appreciate your interest in these studies.  Please wait for us to return on 9/19.

It seems we are always wanting more. No matter the subject, and no matter how much we already have, we seem to always want more. But when is enough, enough? Can we be content with “enough.”

Is it enough to have a car, or must we have the latest model? Is it enough to have a house, or must we have a “nice” house? Is it enough to clothe ourselves and our children, or must we have a certain brand of clothing? Is it enough to meet our financial obligations, or must we have additional money to “play” with? Is it enough to be a servant of God, or must we be in the spotlight?

It’s really this last point I want you to consider. Have you ever heard of Quartus? He’s probably unknown to you by name, but he’s mentioned in the Bible. What the Bible records about him is not remarkable. He had no particular fame. He didn’t slay a giant or survive a fiery furnace. In fact I know of nothing that this man did that would cause him to be remembered. But here’s what the Bible says about him, “Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city greets you, and Quartus, a brother ” (Romans 16:23Romans 16:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 Gaius my host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the treasurer of the city saluteth you, and Quartus the brother.

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Did you catch that. “Quartus, a brother.” Nothing more; just a brother. But that’s enough, isn’t it? Whatever else I may or may not be able to achieve in life, if I can just be remembered as “a brother in Christ,” it will be enough!

Steve Higginbotham

TAMING THE TONGUE

We were unable to post yesterday due to technical difficulties.  After tomorrow’s studies, we will be on break until 9/19.

Topic:  “Taming the Tongue”

Texts:  James 3:1-12, 1:26James 3:1-12, 1:26
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 1 Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment. 2 For in many things we all stumble. If any stumbleth not in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also. 3 Now if we put the horses' bridles into their mouths that they may obey us, we turn about their whole body also. 4 Behold, the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by rough winds, are yet turned about by a very small rudder, whither the impulse of the steersman willeth. 5 So the tongue also is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how much wood is kindled by how small a fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire: the world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the wheel of nature, and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beasts and birds, of creeping things and things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed by mankind. 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we the Lord and Father; and therewith curse we men, who are made after the likeness of God: 10 out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth the fountain send forth from the same opening sweet water and bitter? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a vine figs? Neither can salt water yield sweet. 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? let him show by his good life his works in meekness of wisdom. 14 But if ye have bitter jealousy and faction in your heart, glory not and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not a wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where jealousy and faction are, there is confusion and every vile deed. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace. 4 1 Whence come wars and whence come fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your pleasures that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war; ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures. 4 Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God. 5 Or think ye that the scripture speaketh in vain? Doth the spirit which he made to dwell in us long unto envying? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore the scripture saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. 7 Be subject therefore unto God; but resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall exalt you. 11 Speak not one against another, brethren. He that speaketh against a brother, or judgeth his brother, speaketh against the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judgest the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. 12 One only is the lawgiver and judge, even he who is able to save and to destroy: but who art thou that judgest thy neighbor? 13 Come now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into this city, and spend a year there, and trade, and get gain: 14 whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. What is your life? For ye are a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall both live, and do this or that. 16 But now ye glory in your vauntings: all such glorying is evil. 17 To him therefore that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. 5 1 Come now, ye rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver are rusted; and their rust shall be for a testimony against you, and shall eat your flesh as fire. Ye have laid up your treasure in the last days. 4 Behold, the hire of the laborers who mowed your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth out: and the cries of them that reaped have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5 Ye have lived delicately on the earth, and taken your pleasure; ye have nourished your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 Ye have condemned, ye have killed the righteous one; he doth not resist you. 7 Be patient therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receive the early and latter rain. 8 Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Murmur not, brethren, one against another, that ye be not judged: behold, the judge standeth before the doors. 10 Take, brethren, for an example of suffering and of patience, the prophets who spake in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we call them blessed that endured: ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, how that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful. 12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath: but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; that ye fall not under judgment. 13 Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, it shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working. 17 Elijah was a man of like passions with us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again; and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. 19 My brethren, if any among you err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 let him know, that he who converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins. 3 1 Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment. 2 For in many things we all stumble. If any stumbleth not in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also. 3 Now if we put the horses' bridles into their mouths that they may obey us, we turn about their whole body also. 4 Behold, the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by rough winds, are yet turned about by a very small rudder, whither the impulse of the steersman willeth. 5 So the tongue also is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how much wood is kindled by how small a fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire: the world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the wheel of nature, and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beasts and birds, of creeping things and things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed by mankind. 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we the Lord and Father; and therewith curse we men, who are made after the likeness of God: 10 out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth the fountain send forth from the same opening sweet water and bitter? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a vine figs? Neither can salt water yield sweet. 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? let him show by his good life his works in meekness of wisdom. 14 But if ye have bitter jealousy and faction in your heart, glory not and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not a wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where jealousy and faction are, there is confusion and every vile deed. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace. 4 1 Whence come wars and whence come fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your pleasures that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war; ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures. 4 Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God. 5 Or think ye that the scripture speaketh in vain? Doth the spirit which he made to dwell in us long unto envying? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore the scripture saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. 7 Be subject therefore unto God; but resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall exalt you. 11 Speak not one against another, brethren. He that speaketh against a brother, or judgeth his brother, speaketh against the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judgest the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. 12 One only is the lawgiver and judge, even he who is able to save and to destroy: but who art thou that judgest thy neighbor? 13 Come now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into this city, and spend a year there, and trade, and get gain: 14 whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. What is your life? For ye are a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall both live, and do this or that. 16 But now ye glory in your vauntings: all such glorying is evil. 17 To him therefore that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. 5 1 Come now, ye rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you.

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Aim:  to introduce the series and to emphasize the importance of being careful with our words.

TRIVIA QUIZ:   In this new series on “Taming the Tongue” we will consider the power of words.  Probably nothing in our culture illustrates the power of words more than commercials!  Just for fun, see if you can identify what company used the following slogans from the past.

“When you care enough to send the very best”    [ANSWER: Hallmark Cards]

“The quicker picker-upper”      [Bounty paper towels – this slogan first aired in 1971]

“Good to the last drop”    [Maxwell House coffee – first used in 1915]         “Must see TV”  [NBC]

“It’s late. Eat more”  [Taco Bell]                 “Get a piece of the rock”    [Prudential Insurance]

“Obey your thirst”   [Sprite]                 “Never had it, never will”  [7-Up]          “We try harder”  [Avis]

“Everywhere you want to be”   [Visa credit card – first aired in 1988]      “Think outside the box”  [Apple]

“When it rains, it pours”   [Morton Salt – used continuously since 1911]       “Wassup?”   [Budweiser]

“Stay with someone you know”  [Holiday Inn]                “Less filling, tastes great” [Miller Light]

“Taste the sensation”  [York Peppermint Patty]               “I’d walk a mile for  a……” [Camel cigarettes]

“The happiest place on earth”   [Disneyland]                  “Betcha can’t eat just one”   [Lays Potato Chips]

“Where’s the beef?”     [Wendy’s hamburgers]        EXTRA CREDIT:    a.  In what year did the “Where’s the beef?” commercial first air?  [1984]          b. What presidential candidate used the slogan in his campaign?  [Walter Mondale]           c.  Wendy’s dropped actress Clara Peller the following year after she appeared in another company’s commercial to declare, “I found it – I finally found it!” What product was she endorsing in that commercial?   [Prego Spaghetti Sauce].

COMPLETE THIS SLOGAN introduced in 1975:   “Two all beef patties……”     [“….special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onion, on a sesame seed bun.”]    What is it describing?  [A “Big Mac.”]

Corporations spend untold millions of dollars on slogans because they recognize that the right phrase can have a powerful influence on our purchasing decisions.  In the same way, the Bible cautions us that using the wrong words can have a powerful influence for bad and can cause great damage to ourselves and to others.  Please TURN to the book of James (near the back of your New Testament), Chapter 3.

READ Verses 1-12   DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:  1. What would you say is the main point James is trying to make in this passage?   Or to put it another way, if you were preparing a lesson on this passage, what title would you give it?              2.  One of the points James emphasizes is the potential damage we can cause when we don’t choose our words carefully.  Let’s reflect for a moment on the many different ways we can SIN with our words.  What are some of the ways we can cause harm to others or to ourselves with the things that we say?    Possible Answers:   Lying;   Swearing;  Taking God’s name in vain;  Hurtful criticism;   Teaching false doctrine;   Gossiping;   Slander;   Flattery.

DISCUSSION QUESTION:  Of all those sins, which would you consider the WORST, and why?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:  1. James clearly wants us to understand how quickly we can get in trouble with what we say.   Not all careless words lead to SIN:  sometimes they just lead to embarrassment!   ALL of us have had times when we unintentionally said the wrong thing and “put our foot in our mouth.”  Can you recall an occasion when that happened to you?   And if so, would you be brave enough to share your experience with the group?            2.  We cannot “un-say” something we have said, so what would you suggest is the best way to respond when we accidentally say something embarrassing?

READ Verse 1   DISCUSSION QUESTION:  When we read the Great Commission, we learn that Jesus wants us to make disciples by “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  Is James contradicting Jesus?  Do you feel that James is trying to discourage people from becoming teachers?                      Background Note:  See Hebrews 5:11-14Hebrews 5:11-14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard of interpretation, seeing ye are become dull of hearing. 12 For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. 13 For every one that partaketh of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. 14 But solid food is for fullgrown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.

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; 1 Corinthians 12:281 Corinthians 12:28
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues.

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Ephesians 4:11-13Ephesians 4:11-13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: 13 till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

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DISCUSSION QUESTION:  Teachers are people who have to be EXTRA-careful with their words.  What are some other occupations that require people to closely monitor their speech?    Possible Answers:  Government leaders; Preachers;   Hostage Negotiators;   Television Announcers.  

 DISCUSSION QUESTION:  Can you think of an example of an individual in a public position who got into trouble because he or she DIDN’T closely monitor his or her words?  If so, what public figure was it and what happened as a result?

READ Verse 2    DISCUSSION QUESTION:  Now the focus switches from teachers to ALL of us. James says, “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.”  Which of the following statements most closely describes what you think he means:

  • Is he saying, a. “The minute you forget to monitor your words is the moment you’re heading for a fall, so don’t let your guard down when you speak.”
  • Or does James mean, b. “Don’t become discouraged when you slip up in your speech, because it’s impossible to be that perfect.”
  • Or could he be saying, c. “Work first on controlling your words, because once you’ve got your speech under control, the rest is easy.”

READ Verses 3-5    DISCUSSION QUESTION:  James uses three different metaphors to describe the potential power of the tongue:  a BIT, a RUDDER, and a SPARK.   What is one characteristic that all three of these pictures have in common, and what does that suggest about the tongue?

READ Verse 6-8     Perhaps James uses such strong language to describe the potential destructiveness of careless speech because so many people underestimate how much pain they can cause with their words.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:  1. Why do you suppose that is?  In your opinion, why do so many people fail to realize the destructive power of the tongue until the damage has been done?

  1. I am confused by Verse 8. If “no man can tame the tongue,” then what’s the use of trying?  Does James mean this is a hopeless cause?

READ Verses 9-12   DISCUSSION QUESTION:  We can recognize the inconsistency of having a tongue that praises God on Sunday and curses another person on Monday, but why do you suppose James goes on to remind us that all humans are “MADE IN GOD’S LIKENESS”?  Why might it be important to remember that particular phrase when we are tempted to swear at another person?

TURN BACK to Chapter 1 of the book of James.  READ Verse 26.    DISCUSSION QUESTION:  James urges us to “keep a tight rein” on our tongue, but HOW do we go about doing that?  What would you say is one specific suggestion that could help us to better control our speech? 

SUMMARY STATEMENT:   James repeatedly warns us of the power of unguarded words to cause great damage.  In the coming weeks we will learn how to avoid such devastation!

NEXT WEEK we will begin to consider specific Scriptural principles that can help us better control our speech.  The first principle will be “Listen Before You Speak.”  To prepare for that conversation, read James 1:19-27James 1:19-27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 Ye know this, my beloved brethren. But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21 Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves. 23 For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: 24 for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing. 26 If any man thinketh himself to be religious, while he bridleth not his tongue but deceiveth his heart, this man's religion is vain. 27 Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

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and Luke 6:43-45Luke 6:43-45
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

43 For there is no good tree that bringeth forth corrupt fruit; nor again a corrupt tree that bringeth forth good fruit. 44 For each tree is known by its own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. 45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil: for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

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 © Dan Williams

Roman soldiers

“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow…” Philippians 2:10Philippians 2:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth,

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THE FIRST THING you would notice about a Roman soldier when he prepared for battle is that he put on a belt, or a sash…

The idea was this:  a Roman soldier wore a tunic; a tunic was basically a dress for men.  It had two holes for arms and a hole for the head.  You put it on and it went down around your knees.

If you were going into battle, you would pull your tunic together with a sash.  Typically they wore an undergarment so they would pull up the corners of the tunic, the long hem of the tunic, and tuck it into the sash, and pull it as tight as they could.

Now remember you’re going into hand-to-hand combat.  You don’t want your tunic blowing around in the breeze where somebody could grab it, pull it over your head, and kill you.  You can’t get into hand-to-hand mortal combat with your tunic blowing around, catching the bushes, or getting your sword caught up in it.

Soldiers needed to run quickly.  They needed to move with dexterity, speed, and had to pull in all the loose ends or they would be an easy mark for the enemy.

This speaks of preparedness.  This speaks of readiness.  This speaks of alertness.  John MacArthur, “The Armor of God:  The Belt of Truthfulness and The Breastplate of Righteousness.”

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth…”  Ephesians 6:14Ephesians 6:14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

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a, NKJV

Mike Benson

So……..how are you feeling? :-)

Farmer Joe decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company to court.

In court, the trucking company’s fancy lawyer was questioning farmer Joe. “Didn’t you say at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine’?”, asked the lawyer.

Farmer Joe responded, “Well, I’ll tell you what happened.  I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the…….”

“I didn’t ask for any details,” the lawyer interrupted, “just answer the question.  Did you not say at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine!’?”

Farmer Joe said, “Well, I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road…”

The lawyer interrupted again and said, “Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the highway patrolman on the scene that he was just fine.  Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client.”  I believe he is a fraud.  Please tell him to simply answer the question.”

By this time the judge was fairly interested in Farmer Joe’s answer and said to the lawyer, “I’d like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule Bessie.”

Joe thanked the judge and proceeded, “Well as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side.  I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other.  I was hurting real bad and didn’t want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning.  I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans.

Shortly after the accident, a highway patrolman came on the scene.  He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning, so he went over to her.  After he looked at her, he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes.

Then the patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me.  He said, “Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her.  How are you feeling?”

There are times in our lives when we are hesitant to say something out of fear.  Not fear of being “shot”, but fear of being “shot down”, fear of being ridiculed, fear of being embarrassed.  As a result, given the opportunity to take a stand for Christ, we choose silence instead.  It seems “safe” considering the circumstances.

May God help us to replace our fear of men with the fear of God.

“And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” (I Peter 3:13-15)

So……..how are you feeling?  🙂

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

The price: a mere $90,100.

“Who Owns This Street?”

I often see signs advertising a “Yard Sale”, but never have I seen a yard actually being sold at one of these events.  Maybe that’s why I was surprised to read about a street in San Francisco that was recently sold.  The price: a mere $90,100.

The street is in the community of Presidio Terrace, a gated community populated with multimillion dollar homes.  Some of its famous residents are Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.  The street was sold because of unpaid taxes.  Had the homeowners association paid $14 per year, this sale would not have taken place.

Now Michael Cheng and his wife Tina Lam, real estate investors, own the street.  They hope to make a return on their investment by charging for parking on the street, or by selling it back to the homeowners.  What they failed to anticipate, however, was the angry backlash from the neighborhood.  “This has certainly blown up a lot more than we expected,” Cheng told the Associated Press.

Have you ever considered owning a street?  How about a highway?  According to a prophecy made many hundreds of years ago you have that option.

Here’s the prophecy: “And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it.  It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray” (Isaiah 35:8Isaiah 35:8
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8 And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for the redeemed: the wayfaring men, yea fools, shall not err therein.

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, English Standard Version).

Later in Isaiah another reference is made to “the way”: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3Isaiah 40:3
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3 The voice of one that crieth, Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of Jehovah; make level in the desert a highway for our God.

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).  In Matthew 3:1-3Matthew 3:1-3
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3 1 And in those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, saying, 2 Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he that was spoken of through Isaiah the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight.

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we learn that this was a prophecy pointing to John the Baptist, the one who heralded the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Those who know only a little about Jesus probably remember how He presented Himself to the world: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6John 14:6
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6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.

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).  Jesus, therefore, is the highway Isaiah prophesied.  He is our route to the Father in heaven.  More than that, He is the only route.

Here’s how the writer of Hebrews presented the idea: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us …” (Hebrews 10:19,20Hebrews 10:19,20
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19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

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).  The “Holiest” mentioned in that verse is a reference to the presence of God.  Through Jesus we have access to God!

There is indeed a street that leads us to heaven.  It belongs, said Isaiah, to those who choose to walk on it.  That choice sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24John 4:24
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24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

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).  Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Copyright, 2017, Timothy D. Hall

The Rest of the Story

Do you know who Joseph, called Barsabbas was?  No?  Doesn’t ring a bell?  Well then, let me ask you another question.  Do you know who Matthias was?  Ah, that you know.  He was the man selected to replace Judas as an apostle.  The other man who was not selected was Joseph, called Barsabbas.

Joseph, called Barsabbas was a man who was a disciple of Jesus.  He was a disciple of Jesus from the time of Jesus’ baptism till the day of his ascension.  He therefore was with Jesus through thick and thin.  Then Judas kills himself, and a vacancy for apostleship becomes open.  His name is mentioned as a candidate.  Can you imagine his excitement?  The honor?  The opportunity?  The plans that must have run through his head?  Then just like that, he is rejected and Matthias is selected.  His dreams were dashed, his plans were trashed.

So now what?  Does he pout?  Does he become critical of the very ones he wanted to become a part of, especially Matthias?  Does he become disillusioned and stop living for Jesus?  I wish I could answer that question for you, however Scripture is silent about Joseph, called Barsabbas after this event.  I want to believe that he took this disappointment in stride and continued to serve Jesus as a faithful disciple, who was at one time honored to even be considered as a possible apostle.  Someday, maybe we’ll get to know “the rest of the story” with respect to Joseph, called Barsabbas.

But now, what about you.  What’s the “rest of the story” you’re writing with your own life?  Ever been disappointed?  Ever been overlooked?  Ever been hurt and rejected?  Of course you have; we all have.  But how do you plan to deal with it?  Quit?  Withdrawal?  Vilify those who hurt you?  Or will you continue to be a faithful disciple of Jesus?  How will the “rest of the story” be written with respect to your life?  Give it some thought.

By Steve Higginbotham

Weed or Flower?

Dandelions are deep-rooted weeds that put out a small yellow flower that turns into a puffball full of seeds.  When the wind blows, the seeds are scattered, thus potentially planting more dandelions in many more places.  To many, they are a nuisance, a weed.

However, Ray Hawk discovered that there are some in the world who look at dandelions differently:

In June of 1992 a group of us went into Russia for the first time after they became an open society. We landed in Moscow and then flew to Syktyvkar, 1,000 miles to the north. When we arrived, I was surprised to find dandelions growing everywhere. I asked my translator why they didn’t cut them when they mowed the grass. Her reply was, “We don’t cut them because they are beautiful flowers.” My first thought was, “Dandelions have a flower, but… they are a weed!”

Hawk also points out that PEOPLE can be viewed similarly…

A man found himself staring at a person who was using foul language. The individual realized he was being stared at, turned and with anger shouted, “What are you looking at?” The response was, “I am looking at one of God’s creations that he loved so much that he sent His Son to die for.”

Others would probably have looked at that young man, heard his profanity, and viewed him as a weed. However, the staring man saw a flower.

Because of our sins, we are like weeds – useless, troublesome, fit for destruction….

But GOD sees us as objects of His love, redeemable through His love.  His desire is to re-create us into something lovely – like flowers!  God does this by His GRACE as we submit our lives to Him.

God gave His one and only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to redeem us from sin (Ephesians 1:7Ephesians 1:7
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7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

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

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

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

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) and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
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38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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), then we are cleansed of sin and become “new creatures” in Christ (2 Cor 5:172 Cor 5:17
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17 Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.

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).

Hawk continues: Regardless of what we have done, in spite of all our sins, no matter how gross they may seem, God still looks at us with love. He loves us and wants to mold and shape us to His glory.”

What a GLORIOUS DAY when we see the glow of God’s love and embrace what Jesus did for us upon the cross. When we do, we are no longer a weed, but one of God’s beautiful flowers.

Won’t YOU allow Him to recreate you through your trusting obedience?

David A. Sargent

Here Am I, Send Aaron!

Throughout history, God has called various men to fulfill his purposes.  We are probably familiar with the question God raised to the prophet Isaiah when he said, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” to which Isaiah responded, “Here am I, send me” (Isaiah 6:8Isaiah 6:8
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8 And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, Here am I; send me.

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).  Likewise, when God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, Moses also said, “Here am I” (Exodus 3:4Exodus 3:4
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4 And when Jehovah saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

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).  However, instead of saying, “send me,” as did Isaiah, Moses basically said, “Send Aaron” (Exodus 3:13-14Exodus 3:13-14
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13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them? 14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

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One man made himself available to God, while the other man made excuses.

While God doesn’t call us in the same manner today as he once did, he calls us nonetheless.  God still needs men and women to fulfill his purposes.  Will you say, “no” to God?  When your help is needed in your local church; when you’re called upon to meet a need (e.g. teach a class, publicly serve in the worship, maintenance at the building, promote and attend special services through the week, visit the sick, transport people to and from church, prepare meals for the sick and shut-ins, etc.) do you make excuses?  Do you say no?  Or do you say, “Here am I, send me?”

When examining the life of Moses, it’s easy to see the error of having a “Here am I, send Aaron” attitude.  But like many things, it’s just harder to see the same error when it is embraced by ourselves.  Take a good look at your own life.  Have you been telling God, “no?”  Which response to God’s call describes you best, “Here am I, send me?” or “Here am I, send Aaron?”  Give it some thought.

Steve Higginbotham.

Are you one of the guilty?

FAR TOO MANY Christians anticipate the end of the sermon, when the preacher uses those well-worn words, “As we stand and sing…”

 

In fact, many can sense when the preacher is nearing those words, and they begin to tune out, thinking–finally–the service is about done.

 

Closing a sermon is difficult, because a preacher wants to spend so much time on the “meat” of the sermon that the conclusion often gets left out of the preparation process.  So, we default.  We end the same way nearly every week, with no real thought to how this will bring the sermon to a fitting end.  We just know it will, well, bring the sermon to some end!

 

Preachers, we need to do our best to make those last few moments of the sermon well worth the mental effort of the hearers.  Many “tune out” because they have heard us conclude every sermon for months or even years in basically the same way.  How many of us end nearly every sermon with the “challenge” to “pray more and study more,” then we ask them to stand and sing?  If I have heard that every week for months on end, I am not too likely to listen very closely either.

 

But, listeners, you have a responsibility, too.  Your preacher’s heart is aching for someone to respond.  He wouldn’t be preaching if his heart was not “in it” (or, he shouldn’t be!).  He has prayed for this moment all week.  He may “default” often, but it is not due to a lack of compassion or love for the lost or erring.  You owe it to him to listen through to the end.

 

Some already have enough “build-in” distractions.  Are we adding to their distractions?

 

And, listeners, you owe it to the lost to keep listening!  It is deeply distracting when people are putting away Bibles, closing up cases for glasses, and even grabbing car keys while the preacher is making one last appeal to someone (anyone!) to respond to the loving invitation of our Lord.  What if your distracting actions cause someone to think that this just isn’t important?  Do we ever think about that, or do we, as listeners, too often “default,” too?

 

So, this week, as your preacher angles toward those words, may he strive for a deeply moving and helpful conclusion, and may we who hear listen through with a view toward eternity, all the way through.  And then, we will stand and sing!

Adam Faughn at http://www.faughnfamily.com/

 

“And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!”’ And let him who thirsts come.  Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”  Revelation 22.17

 

Mike Benson

Why don’t we ever refer to doubting Peter or doubting John?

How would you like for me to survey your entire life, pick one of your weakest moments, and choose to identify from that point on by that moment? I don’t think any of us would want this done to us, but it may precisely be what we have done with the apostle, Thomas. We are very familiar with the doubts that Thomas expressed in John 20 when he said that he needed to see the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side to believe he had resurrected. However, what we fail to consider is that Thomas was not the only unbelieving apostles. Jesus abraded all the apostles for their unbelief following his resurrection and had them all examine his wounds.

That being the case, why don’t we ever refer to doubting Peter or doubting John? Why just pick on Thomas. There was much more to Thomas than his moment of doubt. In fact, in John 11, when the other apostles were hesitant to follow Jesus, it was Thomas who boldly spoke up and encouraged the rest to follow Jesus to their deaths! No, there was much more to Thomas than his moment of doubt. He was more than a doubter, he was a hand selected, faithful apostle of Jesus Christ.

Next time you’re tempted to dismiss a co-worker, an acquaintance, or a fellow church member that you witnessed having a “bad moment,” be fair with them. Don’t measure their entire life by their one act of weakness. Give them the opportunity to redeem themselves. After all, doesn’t the “Golden Rule” demand such? (Matthew 7:12Matthew 7:12
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12 All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets.

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Steve Higginbotham

Need help raising children?

1.Begin regular spiritual training now and continue through all their developing years (Proverbs 22:6Proverbs 22:6
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6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it.

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).

2.Clearly demonstrate to them at all times that God is the most important thing in your life, by never allowing other things to interfere with the worship and work of the Lord (Matthew 6:33Matthew 6:33
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33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

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3.Let their early memories include daily readings of Bible stories and Bible discussions in the family circle (2 Timothy 3:152 Timothy 3:15
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15 And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

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4.Give them their own Bible even before they can read. Read to them from it at home and have them take it to church services (Deuteronomy 6:6Deuteronomy 6:6
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6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart;

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–7). In their preschool years have them begin a lifetime habit of regular memorization and review of important Bible verses (Psalm 119:11, 16Psalm 119:11, 16
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11 Thy word have I laid up in my heart, That I might not sin against thee. 16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. Gimel.

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).

5.Teach them to pray by having them repeat after you phrase by phrase. Pray audibly with them daily (Ephesians 6:18Ephesians 6:18
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18 with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints,

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). (Never teach them to memorize a prayer.)

6.Speak often of the joys of serving God (Philippians 4:4Philippians 4:4
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4 Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice.

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). Sing songs together about it (never with an instrument, Colossians 3:16Colossians 3:16
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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.

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). Instill in them a longing to go to heaven.

7.Spend the necessary time to be the main spiritual teacher of your children, more than the preacher or teach­er (Ephesians 6:4Ephesians 6:4
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4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.

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8.Teach them that lying is one of the worst things they could ever do (Revelation 21:8, 27Revelation 21:8, 27
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8 But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death. 27 and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb's book of life.

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), and punish them firmly if they do (Proverbs 29:15Proverbs 29:15
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15 The rod and reproof give wisdom; But a child left to himself causeth shame to his mother.

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–17).

9.Train them early in principles of modesty, and you won’t have to combat short shorts, scanty tops, and scanty swim suits in years to come (1 Timothy 2:91 Timothy 2:9
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9 In like manner, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment;

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).

10.Keep their speech pure by not allowing yourself or them to ever use profanity or even a substitute such as golly, gee, gosh, darn, and heck (Matthew 12:36Matthew 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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–37).

–Source unknown

Maybe you ought to just stay put for awhile

YOU CAN BE sure the process of relinquishment and preparation in life can get confusing at times…

Moses tried to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt but things suddenly took a turn toward disaster. He and the Israelites ended up at the shore of the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army hot on their heels. Pharaoh had just come from the deathbed of his firstborn and there was vengeance in his eyes and violence in his heart. His pursuit of the Jewish people was relentless, and Moses knew he was coming.

The people said, “We ought to go back to Egypt.”

Moses said, “Stand still.”

God said, “Go forward.”

THOUGHTS: Sometimes we find ourselves in a similar place. People around us ask, “What are you doing moving in that direction? Go back to where you were comfortable.” Meanwhile, a leader you may respect may say, “Maybe you ought to just stay put for awhile. Maybe the timing is just not right.” The only way to find your way among conflicting opinions is to ask this question: What does God say (in His Word)? “Go forward.” Tommy Tenney, Up is Down and You Die to Live, “The Daily Chase,” 147

And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.”
Exodus 14:12-14Exodus 14:12-14
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12 Is not this the word that we spake unto thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it were better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. 13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah, which he will work for you to-day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 14 Jehovah will fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

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Mike Benson

 

If I were choosing things to put on display for all the world to see, what would I select?

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21Matthew 6:19-21
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19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.

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NKJV).

Most people in less developed countries use much less space in which to live than the majority in the United States. Many families of two or three generations occupy tiny homes of one or two rooms. Not only do the people have less room for themselves – there is also very little storage space for possessions.

There are two obvious reasons for this latter fact: space is expensive and hard to obtain and they normally just don’t have many possessions to store. Their houses characteristically lack closets, attics, basements or storage out-buildings.

If those existed they would be mostly empty. Well, that is not correct; more family members would be living in them.

When a family does acquire extra bedding, dishes, clothing or some special keepsake, there are two favorite ways to store them. The first is the metal box. These vary in size from a normal packing trunk or foot-locker, to a box about the size and shape of a chest style freezer.

These will typically hold blankets, heavy winter clothes, and the like. Since they can be locked securely, and the house may not be secure, they also contain any valuables (jewelry, etc.) which the family may possess.

The other method of storage is the “showcase,” basically the same as our china cabinets or display cases. This is where special dishes, keepsakes and memorial items are not only kept up safely, but put on display for others to see and enjoy. Usually it is only the more prosperous (i.e., middle class and above) families that have these.

Seeing these special places and their contents leads me to ask myself two questions.

First, if I only had that much space in which to secure my possessions, what would I keep in them? That is, if I could only own as much as I could use at one time, or store in a small trunk, what of all that I own would I keep?

What means the very most to me? Could I be happy with only that amount of worldly things?

The second question is, “If I were choosing things to put on display for all the world to see, what would I select?” This reflects upon my pride of ownership, and my sense of self-identity. What would speak to others about me in such a way as to make me comfortable?

Among my possessions there may be things that I would be happy for all to know about, but there may be some which I would just as soon be less well known.

We talk about “not airing our dirty laundry in public.” Not all possessions are material things. Some have to do with our attitudes, habits, actions, and reputations.

We publicly demonstrate our true selves either deliberately or thoughtlessly. But they are out there, plainly seen, telling others who we are.

Jesus suggests that the most valuable possessions we have are those which can be stored eternally in Heaven with God. Though he may have in mind our prayers and offerings (see the story in Acts 10:1-8Acts 10:1-8
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10 1 Now there was a certain man in Caesarea, Cornelius by name, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2 a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, who gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. 3 He saw in a vision openly, as it were about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in unto him, and saying to him, Cornelius. 4 And he, fastening his eyes upon him, and being affrighted, said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are gone up for a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa, and fetch one Simon, who is surnamed Peter: 6 he lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side. 7 And when the angel that spake unto him was departed, he called two of his household-servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 8 and having rehearsed all things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.

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about Cornelius), it is likely that he includes much more than that.

Every good deed or kind word which believers do is credited to them and will be rewarded (Matthew 10:40- 42Matthew 10:40- 42
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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We should be less concerned with displaying our earthly possessions to men, and more occupied with living righteously before God. It is the spiritual showcase which should contain our treasures.

–by Michael E. Brooks

 

God’s training ground

THE WASTELAND IS God’s training ground…

 …There are half a dozen different things God does to the person going through the wasteland.  While there, you usually just spin your wheels.  It’s so discouraging.  You feel like God’s not hearing your prayers, He’s not letting you break through.  And the truth of it is, He is hearing your prayers, but He’s not letting you break through.

 

The wasteland isn’t caused by sin.  …It’s like when Joseph was in prison – those times.  In neither case did he sin to go to prison.  God brought him into prison and it was a long and difficult wasteland of preparation of his confidence, his capacity, his character–everything.  And then, when the wasteland was over, he walked out and ruled the biggest and most powerful nation in the world.  Bruce Wilkins

 

“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”  1 Peter 5.10

 –Mike Benson

It can kill or make alive

JERRY KRAMER, AN offensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers, played on championship teams for legendary coach Vince Lombardi…

 

Kramer recalled the following story from his days of playing for Lombardi:

 

“One day during the first year I play for him, he rode me unmercifully, pointing out how slow I was, how weak I was, how stupid I was.  He convinced me.  By the time I dragged myself into the locker room, I suspected I was the worst guard in league history.  I sat in front of my locker, head down, contemplating quitting, when Lombardi came up behind me, messed up my hair and said, ‘Son, one of these days you’re going to be the greatest guard in the league.’  Suddenly I was 10 feet tall, ready to do anything for him.”

 

THOUGHT:  In a simple way, Kramer’s story reveals the great power of the tongue.  It can kill or make alive.  Wade L. Webster
 

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18.21

 

Mike Benson

Apostates come from homes where religion is emphasized less overall than non-apostates.

RELIGION BEGINS IN the home…

That’s where we are first able to come into contact with God and where the religious seed is often first planted.

Certainly many, many people come to the Lord who weren’t raised in a religious household. However, when compared with those “raised religious,” the latter are less likely to fall away.

One study concluded “The reported emphasis placed on religion in one’s childhood home is one of the best predictors of later religiosity. Apostates come from homes where religion is emphasized less overall than non-apostates. This is especially true of teenagers who fall away immediately after leaving home.” So powerful is the family’s influence on apostasy that one study found that children from “religiously inactive” homes were nearly four times as likely to fall away later in life as children from “religiously active” homes. In that study, a “religiously active” home was one where the entire family attended church services weekly; there was also a high amount of prayer, Bible study, and religious discussion in the home. A “religiously inactive home” was one where the parents did not attend services and there was no other religious activity at all.

Of course the reasons why this is so are self-evident: Family has a crucial influence on coming to faith in the first place; it then logically follows that it would have an effect on apostasy. In fact, there is substantial research pointing to the all-important role of the family in developing faith.

In one study, over 40% of those surveyed said the family was the primary influence on their religion.

What’s startling is to note that we are talking about processes that unfold over time. The research is saying that the quality of religious experience one is exposed to at, say, age nine greatly influences the likelihood that he will fall away at, say, age 23. Brian Simmons, “The Causes of Falling Away, Part 2,” Falling Away–Why Christians Lose Their Faith & What Can Be Done About It, 85-85

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22.6

Mike Benson

 

WHAT’S ON THE OTHER SIDE?

A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to leave the examination room. He said, “Doctor, I am afraid to die. I need to know what to expect when I go to heaven. Please tell me what lies on the other side.”

The doctor wanted to offer comfort to his patient, but he didn’t know what to say. Very quietly, the doctor said, “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?! Then why do you want to go to heaven if you don’t know? You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the other side?”

The doctor was uneasy and was holding the handle of the door. From the other side came a sound of scratching and loud whining. As the doctor opened the door, a dog sprang into the room with his tail wagging and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.

Turning to the patient, the doctor said, “Did you notice my dog? He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing: I know my Master is there, and that is enough. And when the door opens, I shall pass through with no fear, but with gladness.”

It’s true that while we are given a glimpse of what lies ahead, there is a great deal that we don’t know and often wonder about. Will there be a literal street of gold and a gate of pearl? Highly unlikely. Those kinds of images may be helpful in understanding how precious heaven is, but they are not of much value in helping us to know exactly what it will look like.

And quite frankly, it doesn’t matter to me, for two reasons. First of all, I trust my heavenly Father to provide nothing less than the very best for His children. And secondly, as the doctor in the story above pointed out, the only thing that really matters is that we will be in the presence of God. Living in a shack in His presence would be preferable to living in a mansion apart from Him. Whatever else heaven may be, its essence is that we have the opportunity to have intimate fellowship with God.

“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.’ ” (Rev. 20:12Rev. 20:12
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.

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Recently, I read a quote that has convicted me more than anything I’ve heard in a long time. John Piper asked the question, “If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?”

It makes me wonder if we’re anxious to get to heaven to have the opportunity to be with God, or if we just want to go because it’s a place where we’ll enjoy ourselves and have all the comforts and pleasures that we’d like to have right now. Think about it.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

The Titanic’s Deck Chairs

Within the early hours of April 15, 1912, the Titanic slid below the icy waves of the North Atlantic. Two hours and forty minutes earlier a deadly iceberg had sliced along the hull.

Let’s wind the clock back on that fateful night to about 9 p.m.

As the ship’s clocks tolled nine and lights flickered throughout the ship, all was well aboard the Titanic.
It was just another wonderful luxurious evening at sea. Churning through the water, the deadly encounter still lay nearly three hours ahead.

It is not difficult to imagine as a night grew stronger, a crewman realigning the deck chairs in straight rows for the coming day. How meaningful was this work? Apparently, meaningful in every way.
Straight rows not only would provide an aesthetic appeal for the following day, they also contributed towards his paycheck. Good honest work!

And yet, in less than three hours, as rivets popped, metal tore and water gushed, whatever meaning seemed to have existed immediately began to evaporate. For how much significance can there be in how the chairs look on a sinking ship?

Ecclesiastes points to this ultimate destroyer of purpose and significance — our own personal Titanic end.

“Everyone shares the same fate – the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, … This is the unfortunate fact about everything that happens on earth: the same fate awaits everyone” (Proverbs 9:2,3Proverbs 9:2,3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 She hath killed her beasts; She hath mingled her wine; She hath also furnished her table: 3 She hath sent forth her maidens; She crieth upon the highest places of the city:

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When nothing is gained in spite of the effort, if the result will be the same regardless, then everything is as futile as trying to grasp the wind.

As for those of us attempting to find solace in creating a better tomorrow, if this world is all that exists then humanity along with our planet is hurtling toward the heat death of absolute zero. Whether we take care of our planet or help humanity is completely meaningless. A lifeless planet wandering through space pronounces all prior activity vain.

Praise be to God who has penetrated death’s cruel barrier! Because of Christ’s resurrection, our activity is not merely rearranging chairs on a sinking ship. What we do now can make a difference for eternity. God enables meaning to flood into our lives.

If it were not for God raising his Son and through him offering life to us, our lives would be a bleak existence.

by Barry Newton