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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God Isn’t Finished With You Yet

[418 words] For the conscientious Christian, weaknesses and failures can be particularly vexing. To put it bluntly and personally, I hate it when I fail to live up to God’s standard. It irritates me. I know that when it comes to sinners, the apostle Paul staked a claim to the moniker, “chief” (1 Tim. 1:15). But he died centuries ago, and I can make a compelling case that I now deserve chieftain status in the tribe of the sinful. Yet I know that I’m not alone. The world swells with folks who sin, and I suspect quite a few of...

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Of Facts and Feelings

[436 words] The movie and television industries exist to promote entertainment fantasy. One of the latest fads is the “reality” show. The only problem is that there is almost nothing even remotely “real” about these shows. So what?! Selling fantasy is about creating feelings not delivering facts. Except for a few documentaries and such, the purpose of television programming in general is to provoke emotions. It is sometimes difficult in matters of religion to balance the dual presence of both facts and emotions. Some have argued that religion is exclusively about facts and there is no place for feelings. Not...

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What Should We Do About Sin?

[485 words] If you, as a Christian, know for a fact that your brother or sister is living in sin, what are you to do? Depending on the sin, you might say. If it is a private matter, Matthew 18:15 and following give the prescription for the matter. If the brother or sister refuse to listen, there are potentially drastic steps to be taken. Galatians 6:1-2 tells us to go and bear up a brother who is in trespass. It tells us to do it gently or meekly. We are after his/her soul, not to just beat on him or...

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Expressions and Impressions

[449 words] Are you approachable? It is likely each of us can say, “Yes, I am approachable. Why do you ask?” It was not long ago that I heard a sister say to the preacher, “You’re approachable.” This is an interesting remark. Is the case that some in the congregation, perhaps Bible class teachers, other saints, elders are not? Perhaps. On the other hand, maybe all that was meant is the preacher is approachable and easy to talk to. Are you judgmental? Some time back, a good way in fact, I heard a person say of an elder, “He is...

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True Forgiveness

[441 words] “For if you forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).”Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4). Often people will quote the first set of passages and thus conclude that forgiveness must be extended in a “blank...

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Three Things Christians Need Today

[457 words] Imagine encountering some of the people that Jesus encountered during His lifetime. Would you respond like Jesus did? Imagine coming face-to-face with a leper, a woman with a blood malady of 12 years, a woman caught in adultery, beggars, ingrates, disfigured and unsightly invalids, numerous diseased, tricksters, spoiled rich brats, a traitor, hateful and violent soldiers, a cowardly king, a spineless governor, etc., etc. How would you treat them? We can learn much from our Great Example! Jesus was humble! How difficult it must have been for the Son of God to lower Himself before His own creation!...

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Speak to Us Smooth Things

[419 words] Much of the world’s “political correctness” is in the Lord’s church, just as it was in Isaiah’s day. In Isaiah 30:9-10, God says, “This is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the Lord, who say…do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.” Many did not want to hear God’s truth then, and they do not want to hear it now. Paul said the time would come when people “will not endure sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own...

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What We Believe

[440 words] Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). On another occasion the apostle Peter stated, “There is salvation in none other. For there is none other name under heaven given among men, wherein we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). Here the Bible teaches that for one to be saved they must come to the Father through the Son. There is no other way to be saved. One cannot circumvent Jesus and get to heaven. These two passages are troubling to liberal theologians. The...

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God Listens

[416 words] Have you ever stopped in the middle of a sentence or in the middle of telling a story because you thought the person you were talking to was not listening? It is quite a joy when the person notices and encourages you to continue. You feel rather down and worthless when the person does not notice. While there are many reasons that a person might not be listening we can take assurance in one very important thing. God listens always. God listens and internalizes what we say to Him. He does not simply let us ramble on without...

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