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Showing posts from September, 2014

"There Is No Other Name Under Heaven"

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The story is told of a successful businessman who made this statement: “Almost every religion talks about a savior coming. When you look in the mirror in the morning, you’re looking at the savior. Nobody else is going to save you but yourself.”

The Painful Process Of Spiritual Growth

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Sometimes when trouble comes into our lives, we feel as if we have been hit broadside. We feel desperation and then we think, “Why is this happening to me?” One possibility is that God is using a painful experience to get our attention.

Morality And The Unchanging Nature Of God

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Morality — the human ability to appreciate the distinction between right and wrong (or good and evil), has always posed a problem for atheist philosophers and evolutionary theorists. If there is no God, where does our moral consciousness come from? It’s easy to see why this question is so appealing to the atheist.

A Betrayer's Reminder

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For a moment of time, let’s imagine how Judas must have felt as he watched his friend Jesus being led to trial with bound hands for only thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 27:9 – about $16.00 - $24.00 in today’s currency). Judas had seen those hands calm the stormy sea and touch the blind and lame — he remembered how often those loving hands had touched his own life.

"Will Worship" Defined

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An individual once asked me, “From Colossians 2:23 KJV, can you please give me a definition of what will worship is?”

"Dying --- Well, That's Better Yet!"

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As human beings, death is not some subject we relish talking about. However, as Paul faced imprisonment and the prospect of dying in a jail cell, he shared a great perspective regarding life and death: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Do It --- Even When We Don't Feel Like It!

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Have we ever faced a chore that we really didn’t want to do such as mowing the lawn, washing clothes, cleaning the house, washing the car, or even preparing a Bible class lesson? An exhausting work week can make us feel like procrastinating.

Rebel Or Merge?

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Walking through a religious-based campus one day, a professor came upon a custodian reading the Bible during his lunch hour. The professor asked what he was reading, “The book of Revelation,” the custodian replied. “I’m sure you don’t understand what it means,” the professor said condescendingly. “Actually I do,” he replied — “it simply means Jesus wins!” (cf. Revelation 19:11-21).

Are We Sacrificing Our Children To Idols?

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In Ezekiel 16:20-21, the Lord accused the Israelites of having sacrificed their children to idols. This is only one of many references to this abominable practice recorded in the Old Testament (cf. 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 17:17; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Isaiah 57:5; Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 32:35; Ezekiel 20:26) Whenever one of these references is read in a Bible class, there is usually a mother who will exclaim that she just cannot see how any mother could do such a thing to her children. It’s easy to imagine to that these idolaters must have been the worst sort of barbarians to do such a thing!

Developing Needed Friendships

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In our country, the most dangerous inmates in our prison system, endure solitary confinement in small concrete cells. They have virtually no contact with the outside world. One inmate commented that the most difficult part of such isolation was “not being able to see somebody face to face — to communicate, to touch, to hug, to feel loved, to feel human.” The implication of the inmate’s words is that of loneliness — certainly not the way man was designed to live.

God Didn't Have A Clue!

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The story is told of an old cowboy who entered a church one Sunday morning just before services were to begin. Although the old man and his clothes were spotlessly clean, he wore jeans, a denim shirt and boots that were very worn and ragged. In his hand, he carried a worn-out old hat and an equally worn-out Bible. The church he entered was in a very upscale and exclusive part of the city. It was the largest and most beautiful church the old cowboy had ever seen.

We'll Never Thirst Again!

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The story is told of a coffee shop that once advertised this special offer: “Buy one of our coffee mugs for $4.49 and fill up your cup for a dime each time you visit.” However, the owners never expected that 25 years later, four longtime customers would still be getting their cup of java every day for 10 cents!

"Have I Therefore Become Your Enemy?"

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Paul did some straight talking to the churches of Galatia (Gal. 1:1-2) when he said, “I am afraid for you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain” (Gal. 4:11). He went on to say:

Where God Is A Stranger

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It is not surprising that the one true God would be as a stranger to pagan nations in times past. For example, to the Athenians, the apostle Paul was one who seemed to be a “setter forth of strange gods” (Acts 17:18). To them, his proclamation of God’s word was as a "strange thing" to their ears (Acts 17:20). However, what is difficult to understand some 2,000 years later, is that God and His word are comparative strangers to many folks in our so-called “Christian” nation. Many Americans have certain illusions and concepts of God just as the ancient Athenians had — and just as false. Many claim to believe on God and believe that He “is” (Hebrews 11:6), yet very few know little of His true nature. And in the absence of such knowledge, it is conveniently easy to “whittle” out a concept with the imagination. Thus, we find ourselves in the land of many “strange” gods.

"Eye Has Not Seen Nor Ear Heard"

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An individual once asked me, “1 Corinthians 2:9 is sometimes quoted as having to do with the beauties of heaven which “eye has not seen nor ear heard.” In context, what is this verse teaching? In 1 Corinthians 2:9, the text reads:

Effectively Dealing With Sin

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The Bible proposes the only effective way of dealing with sin — "confession" (cf. Psalm 51:1-3; 2 Samuel 24:10-17). In the Old Testament, one of the ways the Israelites were supposed to cleanse themselves and maintain purity before God and in their community was by confessing their sins (Numbers 5:5-8; cf. Leviticus 5:1-5; Leviticus 26:40-42).

Mankind And Apostasy

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In Ecclesiastes 7:29), the Ecclesiastes writer points out the fact that God created man “upright” or fashioned man in the moral image of God (Genesis 1:27). Thus man was not designed in God’s original plan to be sinful, but rather with a spiritual inclination to faithfulness (cf. Matthew 24:13; Revelation 2:10).

The Word "BIBLE" And What It Stands For

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The story is told of a young boy who one day proudly announced to his father, “I know what the Bible stands for!” His father smiled and replied, “What do you mean you know what it stands for?” The son replied, “But I do know!” “So son, what does the Bible stand for?” “That’s easy, Dad. It stands for:

"To Him Who Knows To Do Good And Does Not Do It"

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A member of the church once asked me, “As Christians, if we fail to tell people about the saving gospel of Christ, are we not in violation of James 4:17?” We all know people — perhaps hundreds of people who are being held hostage by Satan, even as he awaits the opportunity to greet them as they die in an unrepentant and unforgiven state. Let’s ask ourselves this question: “If we were put on trial for our inaction regarding lost souls with whom we interact with on a daily or weekly basis, what would the verdict be?”

Some Causes Of Spiritual Boredom

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Are we bored with worship to God? Do we believe the church with which we assemble is spiritually dead? Do we view the worship of others as lifeless? Do we feel empty, as though God is far from us?

Let's Use Our God-Given Weapons!

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While recently reading an ancient history book about the Roman Empire, I came across a picture of a class of Roman gladiator called the Retiarius who fought using only a net and a trident. Of all the lethal weapons available to these gladiators who often battled to the death, these fearless men were only given two items — a piece of webbing and a three-pronged spear. When they entered the arena, their survival depended on how well they could use these weapons.

By Accident Or On Purpose?

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The story is told of a cowboy who applied for an insurance policy. His agent asked, “Have you ever had any accidents?” After thinking for a moment the cowboy responded, “Nope, but a bronc did kick in two of my ribs last summer, and a couple of years ago a rattlesnake bit me on the ankle.”

The Gospel --- Making Us Brand New!

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Do we notice how quickly things get old or outdated? New automobiles become old after driving them off the car lot. Computers become outdated in six months or less. Houses deteriorate and need repair. What’s new today will be old tomorrow.

Reclaiming Our Spiritual Passion

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Have we ever thought why our spiritual passion fades so easily? After we were baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:26-28) , we spent hours thinking about Him, studying His Word, and telling others how much He meant to us. Then it happened. Our busy schedules slowly dampened our passion. Our longing to be like Jesus and our study of His word became an occasional glance — surely the object of our affection had not changed that much!

Inexpensive Spiritual Fitness

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Fitness advocates tell us that it’s not necessary to have an expensive treadmill or specialized equipment to get a great physical workout at home. For example, one fitness advocate uses a common toolbox for stepping exercises and lifts soup cans to work his shoulder muscles. Other trainers encourage people to use jump ropes, chairs, and brooms in conditioning routines. They see exercise as a matter of will — not wealth.

God Can Use Our Defects For His Glory!

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When God called Moses to lead His people, Moses began to make excuses. “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Exodus 4:10).

God Knows Best!

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Have you ever given advice to your son or daughter, which was many times ignored? If we feel frustrated when our children do not follow our sage advice, imagine how God feels when we ignore His. After all, He is the only One with perfect knowledge of what is good for us (Psalm 44:20-21; Psalm 90:8; Psalm 139:1-4; Jeremiah 23:24; Deuteronomy 6:24-25; Deuteronomy 10:12-13), yet we often behave as if we know better.

"Cast Your Bread Upon The Waters"

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An individual once asked me, “Can you please give us a scriptural interpretation of Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 and the application for us living in the 21st century?”

Exhibiting Wise Behavior

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In 1 Samuel 18:5; 1 Samuel 18:14-15 and 1 Samuel 18:30, the writer tells us that David “behaved wisely.” In fact, he behaved “more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that his name became highly esteemed” (1 Samuel 18:30).

Is There A Difference Between The Terms "Sanctification" And "Justification"?

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An individual once asked, “Does the Bible teach that there is a difference between sanctification and justification? Or are those two things essentially the same?” Answer: Yes, there is a difference between the two terms. The basic meaning of the word “sanctify” means to “set apart” or to dedicate one’s life in service to God.

Christ Is Our Advocate, Intercessor And Mediator

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The New Testament teaches that Christ is our advocate, intercessor and mediator (cf. 1 John 2:1; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 1 Timothy 2:5). To better understand how our Lord functions in these roles, let us use the following example of a general practitioner:

"Only In The Lord"

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An individual once asked, "Does the phrase, "only in the Lord" in 1 Corinthians 7:39 mean that a widow can only marry another Christian?"

Applying God's Oil

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The story is told of an eccentric old man who carried an oil can with him everywhere he went. If he passed through a squeaky door or a stiff gate, he applied oil to the hinges. His practice of lubrication made life a little easier for those who followed after him.

The Kindling Of Our Hearts

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In Acts 17:13-32, Paul preached to the Athenians at Mars Hill, declaring the truth of the resurrection. Unfortunately, many listeners gathered there were not seeking spiritual truth, but simply wanted to discuss the latest human doctrines and philosophies, with seemingly little interest in acting on what they learned from Paul’s preaching (Acts 17:18-21,32).

A Contrast In Attitudes

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In Acts 12:20-23, we read of King Herod delivering an oration to an audience eager to win his favor. He reveled in their flattering response: “The voice of a god and not of a man!” (Acts 12:22). For his failure to “give glory to God,” he was immediately struck by an angel of the Lord. He suffered an excruciating death because of his irreverent attitude toward God (Acts 12:23).

Which Direction Are We Growing?

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From life’s experiences, we know that some folks grow old gracefully, while others become grouchy and ill-tempered. Knowing this, it’s important for us as Christians to know which direction we’re growing, spiritually speaking.

Satan's Harmless Looking Tool

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The story is told of Satan who once conducted a garage sale and offered all the tools of his trade to anyone who would pay the price. They were spread out on the table and each one was labeled — hatred, malice, envy, gossip, lust — all the weapons that everyone knows so well. But off to one side lay a harmless looking tool marked “discouragement.” It was old and worn looking, but was priced far above the rest. When asked the reason why, Satan replied, “Because I can use this one so much more easily than the others. No one knows that it belongs to me, so with it I can open doors that are bolted tightly against the others. Once I get inside man’s heart with this tool, I can easily use any other tool that best suits my purposes.”

The Bible --- No Cover-ups Here!

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One of the challenges that religious writers must face, is the challenge of being honest about evil. When we write, we should always want good to win over evil. But even the best people have flaws. So to be credible, writers must be honest about the evil that lurks even in good people.

Watching Our Words

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Good grammar mattered to my grandmother. As a former English teacher, it bothered her when she heard me use an incorrect word. For instance, when I used the word “I” in a sentence instead of “me” or “who” instead of “whom.” In her mind, there was a proper way to use the English language, and it made her cringe when someone violated the standard.

Finding True And Lasting Satisfaction

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Becoming rich and famous does not guarantee contentment. If it did, multimillionaire athletes and Hollywood celebrities would not jeopardize their careers by using illicit drugs. Wealthy lawyers would not wish they could trade everything they had for a change in the behavior of their children. Multiple marriages among celebrities would not be commonplace. Obviously, contentment must come from a source other than wealth and fame.

Appreciating The Value Of Time

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If we have a clock or watch available with a secondhand on it, stop and follow that hand as it ticks away one minute. Those 60 seconds are the way we measure time, and time is the very essence of our lives. By the time we reach the age of 75, the clocks and watches of this world will have ticked away a total of nearly 2.5 billion seconds.

God's Talent Search Criteria

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In past years, entertainment talent search shows like American Idol have become a global phenomenon. Each week, millions of people anxiously wait to find out who will be the next singer eliminated in the musical talent search, and who will stay to eventually receive the top award of becoming the next American Idol entertainer of the year.

The Health Benefits Of Having An "Attitude Of Gratitude"

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According to various studies conducted by doctors around the country, having an "attitude of gratitude" promotes good physical health. Volunteers who kept weekly gratitude journals, reported fewer aches and pains than those who recorded daily hassles or neutral events.

"Run From The Ice Cream Man!"

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The story is told of a little boy who tried his best to save money to buy his mother a present. It was a terrible struggle because he gave in so easily to the temptation to buy goodies from the ice cream man whenever the brightly colored van came through his neighborhood.

Weeping With Those Who Weep

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The story is told of a little boy with a big and compassionate heart. His next-door neighbor was an elderly man whose wife had recently died. When the youngster saw the elderly man crying, he simply climbed up onto his lap and sat there.

The Significance Of Our Life

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In the mid-1970s, Ed Roberts built the world’s first commercially successful personal computer (PC). He hired Bill Gates and Paul Allen to write software for him. Roberts sold his computer business in 1977 and bought a farm. Seven years later, at the age of 41, he entered medical school. Today Bill Gates is the Chairman of the largest software company in the world and also guides the world's richest philanthropy, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Ed Roberts is a physician in a small Georgia town.

Seeing God In The Ordinary

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For many folks, Monday represents the start of another monotonous cycle of work. Maybe it’s a mountain of washing and ironing, an endless sorting of mail, the same dull routine on an assembly line, or the tedium of sitting at a computer entering data or watching a printer spit out seemingly endless sheets of paper.

"Overcome Evil With Good"

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As Jesus was passing through Samaria on His way to Jerusalem, He sent messengers ahead to prepare a place. However, the villagers refused Him because they had no association with Jews, just as the Jews did not associate with Samaritans (Luke 9:51-53; cf. John 4:9).

Kinds Of Sleepers

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Have our eyelids ever suddenly become heavy when the preacher steps into the pulpit and begins his sermon? We often joke about those who “doze off” during worship, but there are other kinds of sleeping that can reflect a more serious problem than sleeping during the service:

Our Afflictions Work "For Us"

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Is there something that seems to be working against us today — time, health, money, opportunity, people? Sometimes it’s easy to feel that everything and everyone is against us. We know we’re supposed to trust God, but it’s difficult to understand why He would allow our circumstances to become so difficult and confusing.

"The Secret Place Of Thunder"

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When a storm arrives over El Paso, as it did this morning, thunder rolls across the Franklin Mountains crashing and echoing through the peaks and canyons, shaking the ground with deafening sounds like sonic booms. This display of God's power, causes me to stand in utter awe and amazement.

God Is Our Ultimate Security System!

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In a December 2005 RFID Journal report, there is a primary school in Japan that tested a system to improve the security of students and also give their parents peace of mind. A radio frequency identification tag carried by each student sends a signal to receivers at school gates, and a computer shows when each student enters or leaves.

Keep Walking Tall!

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During my basic training in the U.S. Air Force, our drill sergeant worked hard week after week to transform our unit from a group of slouching civilians into a company of men who stood straight and walked tall. It was not an easy job. When he said, “You’re looking good” at the end of our training period, we felt proud of who we were and how we had changed.

Let's All Be Philanthropists!

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The story is told of some young children who were talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up. When it was Johnny’s turn to speak, he didn’t mention one of the more common professions like doctor, lawyer, policeman, and fireman. What he wanted to be was a philanthropist. When the other kids asked him to explain, he replied, “I heard they’re the guys who have all the money.”

Obedience From The Heart

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A few years back, I read about a Colorado Springs woman who sat in her car in front of an elementary school, pointing a hair dryer out her window at passing vehicles. Many drivers mistook the hand-held dryer for a radar gun and slowed down. The speed limit of 15 mph was posted in the school zone, but it took the threat of punishment to get drivers to obey the law.

"Our Place In Time"

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While surfing the Internet a few years ago, I came across the Henry Ford Museum, located in Dearborn, Michigan. In their “online exhibits” section, there is a fascinating exhibit entitled, “Your Place In Time” (scroll down to heading, "see all exhibits" at bottom of page and it will be the last listed exhibit). Click on that link, and then click on the heading, "The Exhibit" at the bottom of the next page, and you will see the highlighting of 5 generations of the 20th century. The exhibit looks at everyday technologies that shaped each of those generations.

Do We Have A Song Of Deliverance To Sing?

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As a history buff, I recently read about an incident that occurred during World War II, involving students and teachers of a school for missionary children in China who were imprisoned by occupying Japanese military forces. As they traveled toward their place of confinement, someone began singing the words of a familiar song.