The Bad Samaritan

[533 words] “Which one?” That’s what a typical Jew in Jesus’ time would have asked about this title. To many Jewish people, all Samaritans were bad. There was no such thing as a good Samaritan. The truth, of course, is that Samaritans were like other people. Some were good and some were bad. Although the Bible does not specifically call him “the good Samaritan,” most Christians know the story about him. But what about the bad Samaritan? Who is this person? What did this individual do to deserve such a label? When Jesus sat down to rest at Jacob’s well,...

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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 Christian’s Advantage

[257 words] There is not a person in the world who can live totally above sin. Paul told us in Romans 3:23 that “All have sinned” and in John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Everyone makes mistakes and fails a little short of what he would like to be! This is why we have Jesus. When we sin and fall down He is there to help. If we could live perfect lives, there would be no need for Christ. In First John 1:7 we find...

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Cultivating Your Spiritual Garden

[528 words] Wisteria is beautiful. Despite its beauty, though, wisteria can be an invasive vine if it is not carefully cultivated, becoming genteel kudzu. As I had to go to a doctor’s appointment in Gainesville, Georgia, yesterday, I noted how much wisteria grows around that city. For the most part, it was not managed well. Thus, you would see azalea bushes or maple trees with purple flowers choking them out. However, if you take the time to train the vine, you can make a stunning addition to your garden with wisteria. One popular way of taming wisteria is having it...

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Thanks For Ruining It For The Rest Of Us

[198 words] Oscar Wilde said, “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” I’m sure you know what he was talking about. Those folks of whom your best memory involves a door swinging shut as they walk out of it. Yet they may not be the most damaging of folks. It’s those that leave yet somehow still remain. People whose caustic words sting even after the sound has died away. The fellow whose bad performance makes everyone question if the job is valid in the first place. A false teacher whose lies still confuse even after they’ve moved...

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The Extra Mile of Honesty

[150 words] Did you know that Abraham Lincoln went into the general store business with another fellow and it failed? Lincoln ended up $1,100 in debt. He could have pleaded divided responsibility and found a legal loophole of escape but that wasn’t Lincoln’s way. Instead, he went to his creditors and promised to pay them every dollar with interest, if they would just give him some time. Then for the next 14 years Lincoln scraped and saved and paid back debts that were not all his. Even when he was a member of congress, he sent part of his salary...

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How a Christian Should Walk

[221 words]  • “Walk while you have the light” (John 12:35)  • “Walk in the steps of faith” (Rom. 4:12)  • “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4)  • “walk…according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1)  • “walk properly” (Rom. 13:13)  • “as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk” (1 Cor. 7:17)  • “walk by faith” (2 Cor. 5:7)  • “Walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16)  • “good works…that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10)  • “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Eph. 4:1)  • “walk in love” (Eph. 5:2)  • “Walk...

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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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A Time to Rejoice

[301 words] Overheard at the Mall: “I just dread the Christmas season.” When I heard these words, I felt sorry for the one speaking them. To me, this time of year lifts my heart because of three nostalgic reasons.  First, I remember how my parents (especially my mother) worked hard to make this season of the year special for our family. We didn’t have much money, but we took out time to do things together. We looked at Christmas lights, we went caroling, took the holiday tour at Mrs. Baird’s bakery, saw the decorated windows at Thorntons, etc. These things...

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What Percentage is Enough?

[293 words] The Communications Division of Syncrude Canada Ltd. once did research on the danger of completing only 99.9% of some task. Of the many things they studied, their findings on money and the medical world will resonate with us the most (these are but a sample). If only 99.9% of the job is done… • Two million documents would be lost by the IRS this year • 22,000 checks would be deducted from the wrong bank accounts in the next 60 minutes • 880,000 credit cards in circulation would turn out to have incorrect cardholder information on their magnetic...

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What Is Your Life?

[143 words] Life truly begins once you become more loving, proud and boastful of others, than you ever are of self. When you see the needs and desires of others as foremost and any of your own as an afterthought. When you recognize that any beauty in the mirror is pale in comparison to the beauty in the world. When property and wealth become tools for the betterment of others and not something by which you measure or horde away. When a child’s smile drives and concretes one’s own. When a stranger is seen as a soul and not as...

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Have You Decided Who You Are?

[373 words] What would you do to be at the birth of your child? Would you miss work? Skip an important meeting? Risk disappointing customers and co-workers? That’s the decision Daniel Hudson faced recently. Only Daniel isn’t in the corporate world; he’s a relief pitcher for the Washington Nationals. And, despite it being the first game of the National League Championship, Daniel’s decision was easy—go to the birth. For Hudson, family is a top priority. He explained: “baseball is what I do; it isn’t who I am.” He made the decision to be at the birth, no matter what the...

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Turn It Around

[268 words] “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country!” This challenge, made famous during the Kennedy presidency, suggests a like principle which should guide every Christian’s attitude toward the church. We should be less concerned about what is being done for US and more attentive to what we are doing for others. Ask not, therefore… …whether this is a good congregation to be a member of, but ask whether I am a good member of the congregation. …how much I am loved, but how much love have I shown.  …how...

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Appropriate Responses to Jesus

[156 words] In Luke 4 there is a major focus on who Jesus is and the way people respond to Him. Obviously, there are both appropriate as well as inappropriate ways to respond to His presence and call. Some appropriate responses to Jesus would be: Praise Him for His powerful message (Luke 4:15). Jesus reveals insight into ancient prophecies, the keys to heaven and salvation, how to live well, how to properly view life, how to deal with pain, suffering and anxiety, etc. This is a message worthy of praise! Become a servant with a grateful heart (Luke 4:39). The...

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Christianity is Good for You!

[182 words] It turns out that Christianity is good for you, and good for your kids. Aren’t I Captain Obvious? Well, I suppose if you have been listening too much to certain atheists it might not be obvious. Richard Dawkins has claimed teaching children to accept their parent’s religion is child abuse, and suggests it’s even more damaging than sexual abuse. Interesting attention-grabbing statement—and completely wrong. If you look at Christian families with unbiased eyes it is to see how beneficial practicing Christian faith can be. If you need further proof, consider a 2018 Harvard Study. Researchers kept track of...

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What Do You Do With His Gift?

[230 words] “And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father’s house” (Judges 14:19). Samson is known by many for his great strength. God uses him in many unique ways to deliver Israel from their enemies, and with each success, it’s written that the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him. Samson is a man’s man—and so it’s no wonder that when...

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Motivation for the Christian

[222 words] “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that … we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11). I recently saw a picture labeled “motivation.” It was of a man racing up the hill on his bicycle with a bear not far behind him. A doctor’s diagnosis might motivate a man who rarely leaves his couch to exercise and eat healthier. A death of a loved one often motivates people...

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Following at a Distance

[371 words] “And they led Jesus away to the high priest; and with him were assembled all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes. 54 But Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he sat with the servants and warmed himself at the fire” (Mark 14:53-54). Peter, who once had told Jesus that He would never forsake Him, watched as His Lord was taken prisoner. Because he didn’t want to suffer any harm or persecution, he followed Jesus at a distance. He wanted to be a “secret” follower of Christ when...

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What Is Success?

[171 words] If success means having lots of money, would we consider Jesus a success? At the end of his short life all he had were the clothes on his back – and those were taken by his enemies. If success means having a family (children and a spouse), where would be the apostle Paul? First Corinthians 9:5 indicates that Paul gave up his right to marry for the sake of preaching the gospel. If success means having a good reputation where would the prophet Jeremiah be? He was arrested, left to die in a pit of mire, taken off...

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Is It Wrong To Not?

[396 words] Is it wrong to not use an instrument of music in worship service? Is it wrong to not drink alcohol? Is it wrong to attend every church service? Now the opposite of these topics often draw many articles and lesson, as people are curious to find out the limits. But one rarely claims fault when one is not on the outer edge. In the book of Job when the text is describing the righteous nature of Job it says: When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in...

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Make Straight Paths for Your Feet

[196 words] While driving to the office, I noticed a slightly battered pickup in front of me. What caught my attention was the rear wheels were not aligned with the front. It traveled slightly sideways down the road. The chassis, or rear axle, needed to be straightened or realigned. This problem is more easily seen by an observer who follows behind. The Hebrew writer penned, “And make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed” (Hebrews 12:13). “Straight paths” is literally “wheel tracks.” Let your...

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Losing Your Connection

[414 words] With technology comes great gains in the way we are able to live our lives. However, nothing can be more frustrating than when that same technology meant to make our lives easier fails. One of the most frequent ways this can happen is to lose a connection. Cell phones, internet access, and satellite dishes are all susceptible to this common problem. How many of us have been right in the middle of a long conversation only to lose connection and have to start all over? How many of us have been watching the big game or our favorite...

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Conversion: Diet Or Lifestyle?

[344 words] I have lost 300 pounds: two pounds 150 times. Many have. It is one thing to lose weight. It is a radically different thing to change our lifestyle. Yet diets fail. All how-to books ultimately fail. Why? Because they do not alter the lifestyle. There are no shortcuts. There is no magic. No pain, no gain. We must change our thinking, our values, our purposes, our direction, yes. our very lifestyle. We need to learn how to eat to live. It is that simple. This also works down at church. You don’t join the church, get religion, experience...

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Slacking Off

[238 words] The tendency of some modern Christians is like that of our ancient brothers who received the New Testament epistle known as “Hebrews.” These folks had not grown in their relationship with Christ (5:12-14); were beginning to forsake the assembly (10:25); had become spiritually sluggish in their religious activities (6:12); and were on the verge of falling completely away from the Lord (6:1-8). Does this describe you? Perhaps you should ask yourself a few questions to see if you are in danger of falling from grace. First, are you as active in the Lord’s work as you once were?...

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That’s What I’ll Look Like When I’m Dead

[163 words] There was a lady who had to show her driver’s license at a store for identification, and she told the cashier, “Please don’t pay any attention to that picture, it’s awful! I guess that’s what I’ll look like when I’m dead.” Staring at the picture, the cashier said, “Oh, they’II make you look a lot better than that!” We spend a lot of time worrying about our outward appearance, don’t we? And yet the most important thing about us is who we are on the inside. In fact, that is what God notices about us! As God told...

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Which Way Are You Going?

[271 words] Sometimes there are clues which help us to determine which way people are going. A man with a fishing pole and tackle box is going to the pond or lake; a boy with an armload of books is headed for school; a man carrying a lunch box or briefcase is headed for work. In religion we can tell which way some are going by: The company they keep. To run with a worldly crowd can result in worldly behavior (1 Cor. 15:33). The places they go. When Sunday outings and trips interfere with worship services then someone is...

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What Are We Leaving Behind?

[303 words] We are all familiar with news stories that highlight the “less than genius” decisions made by certain law breakers. Sometimes there are valuable lessons to be learned from these blunders. One particular criminal had been in jail for a short period of time when he was released. However, only a couple of hours after he had posted bail, he was arrested again. This time he was charged with two counts of burglary. What happened? Why was he arrested again so quickly after being set free? It was all about what he left behind. At the first home he...

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Let Go, But Hold On

[418 words] There is this new movie, Frozen, which is a big hit with my kids, and a lot of others as well. One of the main story lines is about this princess born with great power, but she lives in fear of discovery. Her parents keep her hidden away in solitude. There comes a day when her power is revealed and she runs away to break free. When she is alone on a mountain top she sings a song of freedom from fear and freedom from having to be perfect. Ultimately it is a song of embracing the power...

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‘Church Stuff’ Really Works!

[396 words] If I were to try to think of a word that best describes God, I suppose it would be “awesome.” Not in the trivial way it is sometimes used but in moments of quiet deliberation when I contemplate his Word, his purpose, and his ways which inspire awe. Throughout the course of my life, I have read things in his Word, abided by them, and watched them come to fruition. I have also read things, rebelled against them, and suffered because of that. In the lives of men, there are at least two dynamics known to have established...

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Ten Minutes With Jesus

[327 words] If the Lord Jesus Christ gave you ten minutes with him, what would you ask? There are some who wouldn’t want to speak to the Lord for two minutes, or even one minute because they don’t believe in him. They think he may have been a good teacher, but certainly he wasn’t the Son of God. Some don’t think the Lord has done anything for them, so there is no reason to ask him anything. Some couldn’t sit still for ten minutes to listen to anything the Lord had to say. Even if they asked a question, it...

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Adopt a Revolutionary Motto for Your Life

[407 words] In the early formation of our country George Washington had the opportunity to become king of the burgeoning nation. But given the young nation’s experience with England and because he had a robust prayer life he knew there was only one King, so he declined the offer. The people of the land apparently knew the same. In a 1774 report to King George, the Governor of Boston noted: “If you ask an American, ‘who is his master?’ He will tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ.” The pre-war Colonial Committees of Correspondence soon made...

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Reality Check

[184 words] “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven“ (Matthew 5:16). If we were to video tape ourselves for a day, would the viewing of that tape be consistent with how we perceived ourselves? Watching the tape allows us to see ourselves as others and God see us. In the final analysis, it matters not what we may think of ourselves or what others may think of us; what really matters is how we appear to God. The reality is that God...

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Boring Christianity?

[503 words] I can remember one time when I was a boy, I made the mistake of stating to my mother that I was bored. The next thing I know I was doing chores, carrying firewood, cleaning, and anything else my mother could think of on our small three and half acre farm. I learned two important lessons that day: First, if you are bored don’t broadcast it, and second, if l am bored it probably means I am not doing anything. Often I hear that church is boring, the worship service is boring, and the preaching is boring. Sometimes...

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Veneer

[313 words] A preacher tells the following story and makes a good point for all of us: “Recently,” he says, “while visiting the hospital, I parked in the section marked ‘Doctors Only’ (thanks to the courtesy of the parking attendant). Most of us try not to impose on these parking areas when doctors need the space; but hospitals usually give kind consideration to preachers visiting the sick. So it was that I was allowed to park in this otherwise restricted area. “As l left my car, walking to the hospital, I became aware of a lady walking toward me with...

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A Prayer for Our Elders

[181 words] Our Father, let me be a pillar of strength to them, not a thorn to sap their strength, nor a burden on their back to pull them down. Let me support them without striving to possess them; lift up their hands without placing shackles on them. Let me give them my help that they may devote more time to saving others and less time to gratifying my vanity. Let me be unselfish in what I do for them, not selfish and demanding that they do more for me. Help me remember they are ministers to the whole flock....

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Mirror Moments

[495 words] Recently I was asked why God repeated his question to Elijah during the incident recorded for us in 1 Kings 19. Before I give you my answer (opinion), let me briefly set the context for you. Elijah had just achieved great victories. He had confronted the prophets of Baal and challenged them to pray to their god and thus bring fire to a sacrifice (1 Kings 18:21). Elijah, of course, prayed to God and received fire from heaven (18:38). Rain also returned to the region in answer to his prayer (18:42; James 5:17, 18). However, shortly after the...

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Living 

  [398 words] Most days, “ living” is a challenge. We have many responsibilities and challenges that compete with our relationship with God. We are raising a generation that has no real religious concern or eternal focus. As a society, our current generation continues to drift from the Creator! The world around us seems put us in survival mode everyday.  Christians can live a fruitful, meaningful life! We can live a full, Christian life provided we are in a right relationship with God. We can do more than survive. We can live decisively, live abundantly, and live eternally as long...

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Paul Was…Are You?

  [377 words] Paul was the man Jesus chose to go to the Gentiles and preach the gospel (Acts 9:15; Rom. 11:13). Once fully converted and committed, Paul accomplished the Lord’s will admirably (2 Tim. 4:7). In three successive verses in the first chapter of Romans, Paul records the formula for preparing ourselves to follow his example, as he followed Christ in seeking and saving the lost (cf. 1 Cor. 11:1; Luke 19:10). Notice for example…  “I am a debtor” (Rom. 1:14). Paul knew that he was under obligation to preach to the Gentiles. It was not an option for...

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How to Live for Christ

  [155 words] Do good to all people no matter what they do to you (Galatians 6:10). Christ is our example of doing good (Acts 10:38). We must follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21). * Bless and love your enemies (Matthew 5:44). Christ was hated, mocked, spat upon, beaten…yet He prayed, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). When we do this, we have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5).  Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick (Matthew 25:34-36). Christ went about helping the downhearted (Matthew 9:35). By us doing this (especially to the brethren), it is the same...

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