The Parable of the Sower

[452 words] Jesus explained to the disciples that He spoke in parables, “…because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matthew 13:13). Parables were stories teaching practical lessons to those who wanted to hear and understand and to hide His message from those who were unreceptive. The parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23) is one of those parables that can be very plain if we choose to accept what the Lord is saying. Jesus speaks plainly of the seed as the Word (vs. 19). In sowing, the seed falls...

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No Cheap Repentance

[423 words] Sin has a cost. That’s a concept we should be careful not to forget. If we do committing sin becomes much less of a big deal. (At least in our own minds). I think this is a reason why Israel’s law commanded a thief to give back more than he stole. Think about it: if you steal something, but you give it back, then no harm done, right? Well . . . except you stole something, and there was a price to that. “The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to his neighbor” (Exodus...

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Take Time to Be Holy

[429 words] In this current crisis, some people are experiencing challenges using time wisely. Many people have time on their hands! But one benefit of this change is that our “no time” excuse for not devoting time to God has been taken away. While contemplating this thought, the old song, “Take Time to Be Holy” (William Longstaff, 1882) came to mind. The first verse is, Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; / Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word. Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak, / Forgetting in nothing His...

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Eternal Spring

[405 words] Of all the seasons, I think I enjoy watching springtime come more than any of the others. After the long slumber of gloomy winter, it’s so wonderful seeing the earth awaken with the grass greening, trees budding, flowers blooming, busy birds flitting about, etc. Truly, spring is a time of rebirth, renewal, and refreshing. I think it is interesting that when we look at the way the Holy Spirit through His word describes the Christian existence, it seems to be in springtime-like terms. “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times...

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The Destructive Nature of Selfishness

[428 words] “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4). Two locations are widely recognized as the most likely spots for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. One, the most likely to be historically accurate, is overrun with people and trinkets and decorations. The other, the one scholars deem less likely to be the actual place, is much less adorned and is painstakingly preserved to look much like it may have looked centuries ago....

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What to Do With Treasures

[407 words] In one of Jesus’ parables a servant was handed a mina (a piece of valuable currency). There were clear instructions on what to do with it: “Put this money to work…until I come back” (Luke 19:13). Some of his fellow servants did a great job with this. They used what talent they have to diligently make the money grow. But not this man. His fear led him to put the money in a piece of cloth. The master was so displeased with only getting back what was originally given that this servant lost everything.  Did you know that...

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The Power of Hope

[408 words] Have you been struggling with some feelings of hopelessness lately? Whenever we have a hard time seeing the end in sight or we face uncertainty or are exposed to fears and anxieties, it can undermine our determination to have hope. Yet, over a hundred times in Scripture, God points us to the hope His children have through Him and His promises. We have such a resource because of the rock-solid expectation He provides. Whatever may happen to us this week, this month, or this year, the Christian can look forward with confidence at the fulfillment of what God...

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Don’t Be a Mosquito

[420 words] I have loved living in Alabama for the past two years, but there’s one major problem I’ve run into since moving: the mosquitos. These bugs are a nightmare. The one good thing about the winter is there aren’t any of these blood sucking demons. It honestly seems like there are two kinds of mosquitoes here. You have the ones that are small enough to fit through the screen door, and ones big enough to push it open. I did some research and found out a few interesting details about mosquitoes. For one, they are attracted to high cholesterol...

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Beating Cabin Fever

[451 words] All of us are being impacted by the temporary shutdowns and physical distancing. We need to do our part to take care of ourselves and our families. This week I want us to look at some practical ways to help us through this time. Our mental health is important and the stress of this event can, in some ways, be as dangerous as the virus. How can I take care of myself and as a care giver take care of those I care about? What can I do? 1) Social distancing does not mean emotional distancing; use technology...

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Making Marriage Great

[464 words] Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher hold the record for the longest marriage in American history: 86 years, 290 days. When asked to explain their secret, Zelmyra said, “There is no secret. It’s God who has kept us together.” She was not implying that marriage was always easy. It isn’t. Great marriages take hard work, but they are far from impossible. Consider the following keys to a great marriage. Be patient with each other. We should be as patient with our spouses as we want God to be with us (cf. 2 Pet. 3:9). Be nice to each other. The...

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A Pregnant Ant

[491 words] I am as low as a person can be! There is no one that seems to have an interest in me; I can’t even buy a friend to shovel dirt on me at the time of my anticipated burial. I wait on the Lord, but does He want to give any attention to me. My humiliation is so bad I can walk underneath a pregnant ant with room to spare. What kind of feeling about yourself do you have? For some, the struggle to feel like you are wanted or accepted is never ending. You always or nearly...

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Moving the Comma

[426 words] Alexander III was Tsar of Russia from 1881-1894. His rule was marked by repression, and in particular by persecution of Jews. His wife, Maria Fedorovna, provided a stark contrast, being known for her generosity to those in need. On one occasion her husband had signed an order consigning a prisoner to life in exile. It read simply, “Pardon impossible, to be sent to Siberia.” Maria changed that prisoner’s life by moving the comma in her husband’s order. She altered it to “Pardon, impossible to be sent to Siberia.” All of us have sinned and fall short of the...

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Are You in it for the Long Haul?

[458 words] A very interesting word occurs in a familiar Bible passage that helps us to understand something of our Christian lives upon the earth. The passage is Heb. 12:1-2 and the word translated “race.” “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the...

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We Become What We Worship

[413 words] Have you ever noticed the affect culture and trends have on our lives? Think about it. Doesn’t almost every person you know own an iPhone or smart phone of some sort? Things like movies, sports, clothing, and music have great influence over people. But do you ever wonder why we’re so heavily influenced by the culture around us? Well, it’s simple—whatever you’re consumed with, you’re going to reflect in your life. In other words, we become what we worship. If you look up synonyms for worship in your thesaurus, you come across words like revere, adoration and idolize....

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Overcoming ‘Cognitive Dissonance’

[440 words] Any person interested in religion will inevitably be exposed to new ideas he has never considered. This is a natural part of the growth process. Some ideas that seem new may actually be ancient, being rooted in sound Biblical teaching (Jeremiah 6:16). Other ideas or teachings are new because they did not come from God, but man (cf. Matthew 15:9). What should one do when he is exposed to religious information that is new to him? Should he always reject any information that contradicts what he has always believed, or should he “prove [test] all things, hold fast...

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Taming Life

[495 words] James 3 concerning the tongue is fascinating. In a series of word-pictures, James describes the control of large ships and the control of powerful horses by tiny, man-made devices, before stating that all the animals of the land and sea have been “tamed” by man. Then in a surprising twist, James adds, “but no man can tame the tongue.” (v.8). The Greek word that James used to describe that process of taming is also used in Mark 5:4, in the story of the man who lived among the tombs but had been impossible to control by others. Life...

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How Bad Can I Be?

[445 words] With the winter holidays just around the corner, we will all be seeing items and hearing stories related to the season. As such, I just read about the fact that there is a website known as emailsanta.com where young ones may write an electronic letter to the North Pole. Several letters from these innocent children were funny, but one stood out to me. Christian, age seven, wrote: “Mommy and Daddy say I have not been very good these past few days. How bad can I be before I lose my presents?” This letter reflects an attitude often displayed...

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I Don’t Get Anything Out of the Services

[406 words] Has worship become a lost art? I’m afraid that many of us go through the motions without ever really reaching out to God. Consequently, we tend to leave a service much as we came in. Before long there is the tendency to dismiss the whole concept of assembling for worship. At its best it is boring. At its worst it is almost unbearable. So we throw up our hands, discard church attendance, and find something to do that we really enjoy. We see others that truly look forward to the experience, but for the life of us we...

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Be Dependable!

[465 words] One of the hamstrings of most every church is a lack of dependable Christians. When Christians do show themselves undependable, they contribute so much to a church: much frustration, disappointment, and friction. We should all be dependable. You probably know little about Shelemiah, Zadok, Pedaiah and Hanon. Little is said about them. But listen to what is said. They were placed in charge of the storehouses because “they were considered reliable” (Neh. 13:13). What a glowing epitaph! On the other hand, David wrote of some wicked individuals, of whom he said, “There is nothing reliable in what they...

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He Came

[435 words] It was toward the end of March in 2006. A tragedy took place in a small west Tennessee town. The news of the tragedy quickly spread through the town, across the state, and then throughout the nation. The various news networks in our nation reported the news of this unreal event near the beginning of their newscasts. Almost immediately talk shows, both on the local and national and levels examined the tragedy and often reached false conclusions which coldly and cruelly indicted the Lord’s church. The small town where it happened was beyond stunned. Relatives and close friends...

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Why Do You Give?

[497 words] “Isn’t it enough to give? As long as I’m giving, does it matter why? Does it really matter what my motivation is?” Think about this for a moment and consider what Scripture has to teach us. Much of the giving in the early church was done to help brethren who were in need (1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8:16-24; Rom. 15:25-27). Giving was also done in order that preachers and elders who labored in the word might be financially supported (1 Cor. 9:1-14; 1 Tim. 5:17-18; Phil. 4:14-19). An early example of this kind of giving is in...

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Do You Really Show Compassion?

[402 words] Many times, I will hear a person say, “I really feel sorry for them” when hearing about someone else’s difficult situation. We may label such feelings as compassionate, because many dictionaries define compassion something along the line of “Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others” (Oxford English Dictionary). But is that all compassion really is? Jesus was the king of compassion and as such, knew all about how compassion truly is to work in one’s life (cf. Matt. 14:14; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 6:34; Luke 7:13-14). In teaching about this in Luke 10, Jesus tells...

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Why Baptism?

[442 words] It seems like such an easy question and answer, and it is. And even though we have tried to explain the need for baptism, we continue to struggle with what it does and is it really necessary? Before presenting several simple answers to the question, it is important to take a moment to define baptism as “immersion,” according to the Greek usage. A good example of baptism (immersion) can be found in Paul’s letter to the Romans, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death…” (Rom. 6:4). But why the need to be baptized? Consider...

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Let Patience Work!

[416 words] The Christian life can be very challenging. Due to the many obstacles and trials Christians encounter, we need to “let patience work.” James wrote the following about the need to let patience work: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4). Notice the statement: “let patience have her perfect work.” James informs Christians that we need patience when facing various kinds of trials. “Patience” means “endurance.”...

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Do Better Than Job’s Friends

[441 words] Job had been sitting on the ground in misery. Everything had been taken from him. He showed amazing restraint after losing all his possessions. Even more incredible self-control was on display when he was told about the death of his children. Even after being afflicted with a painful illness, even after his own wife told him he should just curse God, Job still would not do it. In fact, the Bible says that he worshiped (Job 1:20)! However, everyone has a breaking point. When three of his friends came by they sat with him for seven days. Afterward...

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Take the Harder Road

[464 words] Building godly character is hard work. “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7). Every effort is right. That’s what it takes to make these qualities a part of our lives. People don’t change easily . . . leading to modern day proverbs like “a tiger doesn’t change its stripes.” Breaking bad habits and creating new godly ones is something that requires a daily focus for a long...

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Clean Air

[434 words] There’s a new heat pump on the south end of the “preacher’s home.” I was there when the repair guys were pulling out the old one. The compressor died. It was no big surprise as all mechanical things fail, wear out, or break, sooner or later. However, there was an unexpected bit of information waiting to be discovered. As the old unit was removed and the “innards” exposed to the light of day, the inside coil was about 80% blocked to airflow. There’s an air filter to make sure that only “clean” air can get into the system,...

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The Need to Be Alone

[409 words] Most of us enjoy the feelings we get when we are in the middle of a crowd. The thrill of the football stadium crowd, the shared enthusiasm when our team scores, and even the disappointment when they lose, are all factors of our delight in this type of experience. Many of us find it strange when someone wants to be alone. “What, you want to be completely alone, with NOBODY there?” The desire to be alone is often considered to be anti-social. In spite of this feeling, there are times when we really need to be alone. The...

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Far Reaching Consequences

[425 words] God, who alone knows the future, set the regulations for Israel’s kings long before the people asked Samuel for one. All the way back in Deuteronomy the law for the king was clearly described. The king must be an Israelite. He must not acquire many horses or go back to Egypt to get more. He shouldn’t try for large amounts of silver and gold. And, “He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray” (Deuteronomy 17:17). Pretty much, if the people just had to have a king, God wanted humble and holy kings. These...

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The Patience of Satan

[483 words] Surely you mean “the patience of Job.” Or, perhaps you meant to write “the patience of God.” You can’t possibly mean “the patience of Satan.” And even though it sounds a bit absurd, that is exactly what I meant to write. And better yet, is the need for us to understand the working of Satan in our lives. This past week Cathy and I were in Illinois celebrating her parents’ 65th wedding anniversary. One of the activities we enjoy whenever the family gets together is our time of worship with the church there. It was during a visit...

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Choose Your Words Wisely

[498 words] The story is told of a man who called the phone company to complain about how his name was listed in the directory. He angrily insisted, “My name is Sweady, but this is the second time you’ve mistakenly spelled it Cyirwu.” “I’m sorry,” the customer service representative said, “I will make sure to fix that right away. So that I’m sure to do it correctly, will you please spell your name for me, sir,” she requested. “Yes,” the man said. “It is “S” as in sea, “W” as in why, “E” as in eye, “A” as in are,...

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Faith: How Important?

[482 words] “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Christians, in some ways, are like anyone else. We all have a tendency to become lax about matters that should be basic and indispensable. It is like eating well. Anyone can learn how proper nutrition works and can even begin to do what it requires. But, there is always the human characteristic to revert back to old behavior, even when it is not good for us. Daily Bible reading is like this. Within the heart of every Christian we know that the life-stream of...

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The Fruit of the Spirit

[462 words] Galatians 5: 22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” This well-known passage commonly inspires us to set a goal of pursuing these individual qualities, and these are wonderful goals to have. However, what many fail to realize is that these various qualities are not meant to be pursued individually. Instead, we should understand them as a whole. In the same way that fig tree produces figs rather than olives and a grapevine produces grapes rather than figs (James 3:1-12) the...

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Why is Our Society So Sinful?

[413 words] Why will a man throw away the wife of his youth and the children she bore him, all for a “one night stand?” Adults use profanity in public and in front of children. Society is plagued by constant news reports of murder, abuse, rape and theft. Even in a small community, the gossip stays hot on social media. In America, we behave badly. One reason we behave badly is because we live for ourselves and we live for the moment. When God is taken out of life’s equation, so is any motivation to live for eternity. Paul alludes...

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Father’s Day Perspective

[402 words] Father’s Day, what does it mean to you? Its meaning has changed for me over the years. When I was young’ it was a day to wear a red rose to church. It was a day to say, “Thanks Dad for all the things you do.” Later, when I became a dad, it took on a deeper meaning as I began to realize all the responsibilities that go with the title. Now, being a father and a grandfather it takes on a special meaning. I look back at the memory of my own father with warm thoughts and...

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Giving As God Desires

[448 words] To purpose to give is a godly pursuit that many spend little if any thought. However, the Lord expects us to determine in our hearts to give sacrificially and happily and joyfully.  “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV). To develop a heart that enjoys sacrificial giving should be the aim of every Christian. Think about the fact that the way we give shows how much we revere and value God.  “A son honors his father, and a servant...

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Is an Active Faith Important?

[431 words] A ship wrecked off the Rhode Island coast, one winter day. A father and son managed to get into a lifeboat. The father refused to let his son help row. Upon reaching land, the father found his son frozen to death. The boy needed activity in order to live. What is true of the physical body is true of the Body of Christ, the Church, there needs to be an active faith in following God. Yet, what I often encounter with many people today who claim to be Believers, is that having “faith” simply means that one just...

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Honor Your Mother!

[471 words] “Honor your father and your mother” is the fifth of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12). Though we do not live under the Old Testament law today, God brought nine of those commandments into the New Testament, including this one (Ephesians 6:1-3). Giving Mom a card and a box of chocolates on the second Sunday in May is fine, but God makes it clear in His word that honoring your mother goes far beyond a man-made annual holiday. How does God say we should honor our mothers? Love her! Young children seldom have to be told to do this....

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Jesus Went About Doing Good

[416 words] Peter made one of the simplest statements about Jesus that you’ll find in Scripture. But it is also packed with meaning and application. He said that Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). This understated affirmation deserves our deeper exploration. What were some of these good things that our Lord went about doing? He Pointed People to the Scriptures. People regularly approached Jesus with questions. Some were only trying to trap Him in His words, but others were genuinely seeking His help. Either way, our Lord knew that everyone, regardless of their problem or their motive, needed to...

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Prison Ministries

[448 words] “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’” (Matthew 25:37-40). There are good brethren who have “prison ministries” where they...

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