Bless You!

[271 words] Blessed are you when you come to worship, even when you are not feeling the best in the world – your dedication is helping to inspire many in this congregation. Blessed are you when you leave your contribution, even when you cannot physically be here – you have helped this church to meet its financial obligations and branch out in new endeavors in the name of the Lord. Blessed are you when you smile and greet others and sing from the heart, even when you’ve had a bad week – you help to spark the enthusiasm and zeal...

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Will You Withstand God’s Refining?

[205 words] “And the people of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until the evening. And they inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall we again draw near to fight against our brothers, the people of Benjamin?’ And the Lord said, ‘Go up against them’” (Judges 20:23). It had come to this. When God’s people had first entered the Promised Land with Joshua so many years before, they were God’s instrument for justice against the pagan nations about whom His longsuffering had run out. The Israelites shrank back from obeying God and eventually blended in with the cultures around them...

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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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Go Forward

[519 words] In the account of the crossing of the Red Sea in the Exodus of the Israelites, we can learn some important things about God and His people. As the Egyptians were in hot pursuit and the Israelites’ fears are growing, God said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward” (Exod. 14:15). Moses was then to lift up his rod, stretch out his hand over the sea, and it would be divided (Exod. 14:16). When Moses did this, Exodus 14:21 records that “the Lord caused the sea to go back...

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Do You Desire Spiritual Sustenance?

[155 words] “Jehovah will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish; But he thrusteth away the desire of the wicked” (Proverbs 10:3, ASV).  It’s easy to read this proverb and understand the point being made is in association to hungering and thirsting after righteousness. The soul that seeks after the Lord’s favor is never famished, but is full and seeks to maintain that fullness. Some, however, look upon these words as being words that pertain to physical sustenance, eating and drinking, never suffering want as if in a deprived circumstance. That can hardly be the case for there...

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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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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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Seasons

[709 words] It’s fall again and a time when we expect the see brilliant colors in God’s nature. Alice and I have always loved making fall excursions Just to see the colors as the foliage turns. This year has not been so good for that as we have now made four trips out in search of color and there isn’t a whole lot this year. We made a short trip Thursday and many of the trees are already naked or are in the process of becoming so. The colors of fall are not nearly so good as is normal for...

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The Formula for Failure

[499 words] I believe each of us desires to succeed. We want to succeed at our business, our families, and in life in general. I think I can also confidently say that we all want to succeed spiritually. It is often said by many a Christian, “I want to hear the Lord say to me, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.”’ However, the harsh and sobering reality is that many will fail. They wish for it but don’t work at it. They adopt the philosophy of the Christian life, but they never truly apply those philosophies, and thus they fail....

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Virtue of the Poor

[143 words] Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21, ESV). Some will interpret the Lord’s words as being the virtue of all virtues—selling what one has in order to help the poor—but this would be a mistake in interpretation. The Lord’s point is not selling and then giving, but getting rid of the hurdle that has now become a hindrance to one’s standing before the Lord. What hurdle is it that you feel like you...

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The Path to Peace

[502 words] One of the great passages in the Bible on having peace of mind is in Philippians 4. Here are the keys: Make up your mind to be happy. “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (v.4). Abraham Lincoln said a man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be. There are heartaches we can’t avoid, but there is great joy in the Lord if we will just choose it. Learn to yield to others. “Let your moderation be known unto all men” (v.5). This moderation means to be reasonable, fair, and...

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God Hates Shorts!

[370 words] You may be thinking that the title is presumptuous, opinionated, and even out of line. Let me disclaim what follows by asserting that God does not hate all shorts. He does, however, hate the following types of shorts. God Hates Shortcuts. At least, He hates humanly devised shortcuts for which He has given no authorization. Man has devised shortcuts to salvation that cut out divine commands. He has made shortcuts in ethics and morality to justify and rationalize behavior God condemns. We should examine such “shortcuts” carefully to make sure they are not detours off of the narrow...

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Precious Wounds

[428 words] Paul exhorted, ‘Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, ESV). We want to “encourage one another” as Christians, but what does that involve? Our minds immediately go to positive remarks and actions that impart courage, confidence and support. Consider another, less appreciated but valuable way of encouraging. There is an old Sicilian Proverb that says, “Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty.” Those who love us encourage us. They encourage us when we do right, but they also love us enough to call...

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Be All That You Can Be

[450 words] “I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery; I may never fly over the enemy, but I’m in the Lord’s Army.” From 1980 to 2001, the popular recruiting slogan was used to imply that it is only in the United States Army that you can “Be All That You Can Be.” While the U.S. Army is pertinent to our nation and has a lot to offer to recruits, it is not the army where one truly can reach his fullest capacity. Rather, the Lord’s Army is the only place where you can...

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James: Where Faith Meets Real Life

  [333 words] We all are looking for ways to deal with the trials and tribulations in our life each day. The book of James provides us with practical strategies from Scripture which allow us to overcome challenges, grow spiritually, and help others with struggles. James 1:1-7 teaches us we can profit from trials! This section of Scripture says, “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad; My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But...

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Changing My Life Into The Likeness of Christ

  [174 words] “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Christ was and I must be: Humble (Phil 2:3-11; James 4:6) Forgiving (Luke 23:24; Mark 11:25) Zealous (John 9:4; 2:17; Titus 2:14) Prayerful (Mark 1:35; 1 Thess 5:17) Compassionate (John 11:35; Romans 12:15) Unretaliatory (Matt. 26:59ff; Rom. 12:17-21) Submissive (Luke 22:42; Matt. 6:10) Serving (Matt. 20:28; Matt. 20:26-27) Passionate (Luke 19:41; Romans 9:1-3) Giving (Matt. 20:28; Luke 6:38) With Paul...

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Help Wanted

  [382 words] We all have gone straight to the “Help Wanted” column of the classified section of the newspaper. When I needed a second or third job, I would spend a dollar in hopes of finding employment in the Sunday edition. Most of the time, we can find work if we are seeking. This is especially true in the work of the church. Someone once told me, “There should never be any unemployed Christians.” Much work is to be done in bringing others to Christ. We know secular work sustains our family and allows the work of the church...

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Guiding the Blind

  [298 words] He hasn’t done it all, but he’s done a lot. Erik Weihenmayer has summited Mount Everest as well as becoming one of the 150 climbers in the world who had, at the time, climbed the other 6 highest peaks in the world. He has kayaked the 277 miles through the treacherous white waters of the Grand Canyon as well as ascending the 3,000 foot nose of El Capitan in Yosemite. Besides having appeared on the cover of Time magazine, there have been three documentaries made about Erik’s accomplishments. Why would so much attention be given to Erik...

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I Am God’s Project

[415 words] “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). There are benefits to an extended, do-it-yourself project, like painting a house, building a model or even assembling a 1,000 piece puzzle. For one thing, it teaches patience. Large projects are usually not done in a day. They have to be repeatedly left and come back to. Keeping on without quitting can be tough. Also, I have found that with large projects, when facing a problem, stopping for a while, maybe a day or two will...

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Have a Plan

[419 words] Sometimes it is fun to just “pick up and go.” It can be exciting to “play things by ear” and to “fly by the seat of our pants” when it comes to things like down- time and recreation. But overall you and I recognize the value and necessity of having a plan when it comes to the most important things in life. Good students are not made by accident. Great jobs are not found and kept by accident. Powerful and lasting companies are not built by accident. Successful athletes are not made and discovered by accident. Things like...

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An Inside-Out Transformation

Christians are being transformed into Christ’s likeness (2 Cor. 3:18). God is trying to press His people into a Christ-shaped mold. But this transformation isn’t an easy process, partly because the world is trying to press us into its own mold. In order to be transformed into the image of Christ we must resist being conformed to this world. Paul writes, ”[D]o not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2, NASB). How...

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I’ve Got to Start…

You may actually know someone who has begun a sentence using the above words. The words that this preacher has heard used most often to complete this sentence are “exercising” and “eating right.” It appears that most of us have a sense of what it will take to improve our health. The key to accomplishing the desired improvement is truly given in this statement. It is the word “start.” We may be playing mind games with ourselves when we utter these words, because if we never start, we will not have to continue the process. Perhaps we feel that we...

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Grow Up!

“But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children…” (Matt. 11:16). If there is a word that describes our generation, it is the word childish. Children are selfish. They can surprise us with acts of giving, but their world view is not big enough to see the needs of others like they should. Babies are born totally dependent on their mothers and fathers. They are born receivers, not givers. As children grow they need to be taught to think about others. Some learn but others don’t. Many have grown in their bodies but not in their minds....

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Are You Living Up to Your Clothing?

It’s Friday evening a little after sundown when he walks through the front door after a long day at work and announces his arrival, “Hi honey, I’m home.” “What took you so long? Supper’s been ready for an hour,” his wife says rather loudly from the kitchen. He walks in the kitchen and explains, “Oh, things were pretty crazy downtown today. We just about had a riot. I’m surprised you hadn’t heard about it already.” The subject quickly changes as she looks up and notices his clothing. “Where did you get that coat? It’s not the one you were wearing...

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What Howard Learned in Heartbreak

Howard Rutledge, a United States Air Force pilot, was shot down over North Vietnam during the early stages of the War. He spent several miserable years in the hands of his captors before being released at the war’s conclusion. In his book In the Presence of Mine Enemies, he reflects upon the resources from which he drew in those arduous days when life seemed so intolerable: “During those longer periods of enforced reflection, it became so much easier to separate the important from the trivial, the worthwhile from the waste. For example, in the past, I usually worked or played...

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Conforming To His Image

In his book, “The Kingdom Agenda,” Tony Evans tells the story about a man who was mystified at what he saw painted on a rural barn. There were twenty painted targets. Each one had only one bullet hole in it, each perfectly centered in the bull’s-eye. Whoever had been using the barn for target practice was definitely an outstanding marksman. Seeking out the barns owner, he asked: “Who in the world did the shooting on the side of your barn?” “Oh, that was me!“ “Where did you learn to shoot that well?” “It was easy, I shot first, then l...

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Be All You Can Be

[297 words] As Christians are we being ALL WE CAN BE? We all have talent that allows us to make contributions to the expansion of God’s Kingdom. When we don’t utilize our talents we have a tendency to utilize excuses. Moses struggled with this as well. We know Moses as a Leader but he also made excuses: Exodus 3:11 says But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Do we sometimes feel we are not qualified? Exodus 3:13 says Then Moses said...

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Don’t ‘Just Say No!’

[331 words] During the 1980’s when the War On Drugs began, one of the phrases developed to deter teens and young adults to stay away from drugs was called, “Just Say No!” Of course the idea was if you were approached to partake in drug use, everyone was encouraged to “Just Say No!” If you did this, you would not become a user of drugs. Sometimes within the church we “Just Say No” when it comes to our participation and involvement. What happens when we “Just Say No?” Saying NO to church participation limits our zeal to teach others. Romans...

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When Slavery is a Good Thing

[296 words] Slavery. The mere mention of the word evokes emotions of the deepest sort, none of them positive. The thought of one group forcibly taking the innocent from their homes and families, chaining them up like dogs, and subjecting them to merciless physical and mental abuse is repugnant to sensible people, and rightly so. Why, then, would the apostle Paul use the language of slavery in describing his relationship with Jesus? Here are his words, “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons” (Philippians...

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Good Exercise

[149 words] Did you get your exercise today? What if we would walk with the Lord? Walking with the Lord in the Bible means living for the Lord daily. Second Corinthians 4:16 reminds us to be renewed day by day. We do this by: 1. Every day let God say something to you (Psalm 119:11, 105; Acts 17:11). Read and study your Bible. 2. Every day say something to God (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Pray. 3. Every day do something for God (Galatians 6:10, James 1:27). Be a servant. Be helpful to your neighbor. Let’s do good to one another. 4....

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Finding Ourselves

[293 words] She was described by those leading the search as “Asian, about 160 cm, in dark clothing and speaks English well.” The woman had been reported missing from an Icelandic tour bus after her fellow travelers claimed that she had gotten off the bus but never returned. It turned out that she had, in fact, returned, but wasn’t recognized by the other passengers. The search was called off when the woman finally realized that the description matched her. It turned out that she was one of the nearly 50 people who had been searching for her (CBS News August...

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Stay Hungry

Jesus once said, “Blessed are ye that hunger now…” (Luke 6:21). In America today, it seems strange to speak of hunger as a blessing. One of the goals of modern life is to insure against hunger. For us, security means food on the table and the knowledge that there is plenty more in the cupboard! But Jesus taught that appetite is destiny! Our hungers can either exalt us or degrade us. The things we hunger for in this life will determine the things we are filled with in the next life. Man’s great problem is his hunger for the wrong...

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The Leftovers

At the risk of appearing snobbish or ungrateful, I’ve got a confession to make: I don’t like leftovers, i.e. cold food that is in need of being reheated. I always have the best of intentions to pull last night’s meal out of the refrigerator, throw it in the microwave, nuke it, and consume it, but I fail to do so time and time again. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve eaten my fair share of leftovers, but I can’t honestly say that I enjoy eating leftovers. The food never seems to taste or look the same. It lacks something. With...

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Be a Better Person

Don’t we all wish that everyone would be a better person? Do we not hope that some bad people would turn their lives around and start doing good? Do we wish our neighbor would treat us better than before‘? Do we hope that the people we meet each day would show us respect and treat us fairly? If we expect others to be nicer and fairer, should we not make the effort as well? The Golden Rule is that we should treat others the way we would want them to treat us. Be a better person now. Do not wait...

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Are You Living Up to Your Clothing?

It’s Friday evening a little after sundown when he walks through the front door after a long day at work and announces his arrival, “Hi honey, I’m home.” “What took you so long? Supper’s been ready for an hour,” his wife says rather loudly from the kitchen. He walks in the kitchen and explains, “Oh, things were pretty crazy downtown today. We just about had a riot. I’m surprised you hadn’t heard about it already.” The subject quickly changes as she looks up and notices his clothing. “Where did you get that coat? It’s, not the one you were wearing when you...

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What Howard Learned in Heartbreak

Howard Rutledge, a United States Air Force pilot, was shot down over North Vietnam during the early stages of the War. He spent several miserable years in the hands of his captors before being released at the war’s conclusion. In his book In the Presence of Mine Enemies, he reflects upon the resources from which he drew in those arduous days when life seemed so intolerable: “During those longer periods of enforced reflection, it became so much easier to separate the important from the trivial, the worthwhile from the waste. For example, in the past, I usually worked or played...

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Growing By Going Beyond

Introduction. We have all seen a toddler crawling around a room, eagerly eying furniture that can be used for leverage when the time comes for “pulling-up.” We have also seen, that toddler reach the pull-up stage and move to walking “with no holds.” We rightly praise and encourage such behavior. We know that growth is only achieved by going beyond present circumstances. What we sometimes forget is, that we (adults) need to grow also. That growth, though it may be imperceptible to the eye, is still real growth. Let us consider some things we need to move beyond in order...

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Remodeling Your Spiritual House

There are tons of television shows centered around the idea of remodeling your home, and most of them operate on the same principle: helping a homeowner improve their living environment. Without proper care, houses deteriorate, or residents simply tire of the old furniture, paint and decorations around them. They need to remodel! Sometimes we need the same thing spiritually! James 1:21-25 gives us a blueprint to do an “extreme makeover” on our spiritual houses, and it all centers around the powerful word of God (James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:22-25; John 17:15-17; Acts 20:28-32). MAKE ROOM for the Word! The first...

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This Really Happened!

On Sunday, March 25, 1979 a family placed membership at one of the churches of Christ in Arkansas. This isn’t significant news at all. In fact, we probably visualize three or four people walking down the aisle at the singing of the invitation song, sitting down on the front row, putting their names on a card, then checking the little box in front of “To Place Membership.” They may have done that, but the significant thing is that they did more than that. They handed the elders — no, not a letter of recommendation, but their own letter. It read:...

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Rules For Growing Christians

Don’t neglect your prayer time. It is the breath of the soul (Luke 18:1). Don’t neglect your Bible. It is your sword for conquest, your hammer for construction, your guiding light for dreary days (Rev. 1:3). Don’t neglect your body. It is the capital on which you are to do business for the rest of your life (1 Cor. 6: 19,20). Don’t neglect your mind. It is your channel for reaching up to the very thoughts of God (Phil. 4:8). Don’t neglect your laugh. Bible teaches that “A merry heart does good like medicine” (Prov. 17:22). Don’t neglect your reputation....

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