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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‘My’ Religion

[565 words] A famous country singer told how she got religion. When she was a child, her mother said the Holy Spirit told her that her daughter had a special gift. When she grew up and started singing, she said the gift had to come from God because she didn’t get it from her mother or father. It was then that she felt she had a relationship with God. She said this was when she began to discover “my spirituality.” “My spirituality.” A spirituality based on a gifted singing voice. How ridiculous! But her claim to religion is typical. People...

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A Marriage to Consider

[455 words] Marriages in the Bible were like marriages today. Some were better than others and some were worse, but all of them had their ups and downs. We can relate to their joys and struggles and learn from these old stories. Consider the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. Isaac was the son of promise. They gave birth to Jacob and Esau. What lessons can we learn from this couple? We see a giving spirit in Rebekah. Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. When this servant came to a well in the city of...

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Elements of a Depraved Culture

[500 words] No God. People have many gods, but not God. They have the god of pleasure. They worship the god of money. Their “god is their belly” (Phil. 3:19). Though the creation plainly declares God (Psa. 19:1), they still refuse to acknowledge Him. No Fear. When men turn to themselves, they become presumptuous, self-willed, and “are not afraid to speak evil of dignities” (2 Pet. 2:10). “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom. 3:18), and they are capable of just about anything. No Respect. Because they have no fear of God, they have no regard for...

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Abide in the Same Calling

[621 words] Do the best you can in whatever circumstance you face. Your situation in life is never completely ideal. Make the most of it regardless of the obstacles. There are some circumstances you can change, there are some you cannot. But you can live the Christian life either way. Earthly conditions don’t last. Even here they change quickly. So focus on the state of your soul, not on the advantages or disadvantages of your physical environment. Joseph made the best out of out a bad situation. So did Daniel. Do your best to have the same attitude. This is...

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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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To Have and to Lose

[542 words] There is “a time to get, and a time to lose” (Ecc. 3:6). Suffering loss is a part of living. We lose money. We lose health. We lose friends. We lose loved ones. We lose our happiness. Life is a constant cycle of ups and downs, gains and losses. Circumstances beyond our control can take away what is dear to us in a moment. People can rob us of our possessions and our peace of mind. Even our own bad choices can deprive us of the kind of life we want. Few things in life stay the same...

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Our Spokesmen?

[534 words] Being ridiculed for our beliefs is a burden Christians must bear. This is not easy but it should not be a surprise. If Jesus was mocked and the early church was called a sect, why should we expect the world to understand us? It is natural to feel frustrated at times. Christians are misrepresented constantly on television and there is little we can do. We have the truth, but it seems the other side always has a bigger voice. We feel cheated and long for someone to sit behind a microphone or stand in front of a camera...

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Can Any Good Come From Stress?

[549 words] Samuel was one of the best men in the Bible. We read about his good life of faith and justice in 1 Samuel, but it is a statement made hundreds of years later about him that tells us just how godly a man he was. In Jeremiah’s day the people of Judah were so wicked that no amount of praying could save the nation from punishment. God even told Jeremiah not to pray for them (Jer. 11:14). To make this point stronger, God said that even if Moses and Samuel were alive and pleaded with him to spare...

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Sobriety Tests

[600 words] The Bible says Christians are to be sober. We must “be sober” if we are to face our adversary the devil (1 Pet. 5:8). Young and old and men and women alike must “live soberly” in this sinful world (Titus 2:1-12). Like many other virtues we read in the New Testament, this word involves far more than we sometimes realize. Being sober includes not being under the influence of alcohol and other drugs which impair thinking. A man who drinks clouds his mind. How much he loses his ability to think clearly and control himself depends on how...

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Hungry? Really?

[458 words] “The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet” (Prov. 27:7). When you are full you don’t want anything else to eat. Even a delicious dessert has no appeal. If you are really hungry, however, you will eat what you can even if it is something you normally dislike. The need for food is stronger than the desire to please the taste buds. There are people in other countries who would gladly feast on foods we think are beneath us. We are hard to please because we have so much. This...

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Therapy for Offenders

[475 words] A newspaper headline read, “Man Gets 176 years for Sex Trafficking.” The man pleaded guilty to 33 counts ranging from trafficking for sexual servitude to statutory rape. Such headlines are common today. Though they pale in comparison to the life sentence plus 1,000 years that Ariel Castro received for h.is unspeakable crimes of kidnaping and rape of three young girls, these reports remind us of how sick the world is. As I read this story, there was something about the numbers that struck me: 176 years and 33 counts. My mind went back to a familiar number in...

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Your Example Still Matters

[458 words] In this wicked age we may be tempted to think that people no longer care or even notice immorality. Even in evil times, however, there is usually enough of a sense of decency in a community for people to recognize a shameful act. The period of the judges was a corrupt and dangerous time in Israel. Ruth lived in those days. When she went to glean in the field of Boaz, he told the young men not to disrespect her in any way (Ruth 2:9, 15). He didn’t want them to take advantage of her. Later he told...

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How Could They?

[404 words] One of the sins of the dark world of the Gentiles in the first century was being “without natural affection” (Rom. 1:31). This is the natural love we have for our kin, especially for our parents and our children. It is not just being “unloving” as the New King James translates this verse. That is too general. Paul is specifically talking about the feelings God instilled within us to nurture and protect our own flesh and blood. Some in Paul’s day were so twisted that they had no such feelings for their own children. Abortion was common. Exposure–leaving...

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Stay Away From These People

  [537 words] The wise man himself, Solomon, tells us not to get close to: People who are always changing their mind. “Meddle not with them that are given to change” (Prov. 24:21). You can’t depend on these people. You can’t trust them. They have no convictions or principles. They change with the situation. They are doubleminded and two-faced. Solomon warns, “Their calamity shall rise suddenly” (Prov. 24:22). People who can’t control their temper. “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to...

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Portraits of Endurance

  [579 words] Barton W. Stone was born in 1772. In his autobiography he wrote, “My father, John Stone, died when I was very young. I have no recollection of him in life.” He grew up without his father, but he never used his loss as an excuse to rebel or quit. When soldiers returned after the war cussing, drinking, and gambling, he refused to be like them. In spite of an overbearing teacher, he excelled in school. He went on to be baptized and became one of the most influential preachers in his time. When Moses Lard was twelve...

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Heavenly Sunlight

  [459 words] “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up” (Matt. 4:16). The world can be a dark place. “The whole world,” John wrote, “lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). Satan, the “prince of this world” (John 14:30), makes sure of that. The Bible does not water down the evil that is in the world, and neither should we. Paul said men will be “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers,...

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A Few Gray Hairs

  [565 words] “Gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not” (Hos. 7:9). “I see some gray hair!” We all hear these Words eventually. The hoary head is one of creation’s Way of reminding us that our lives are like a flower. They bloom and fade quickly. Hosea did not bring up the subject of our hair turning gray just to teach us that it is a sign of aging. As he does so often in this book, he uses a simple fact of nature to illustrate a spiritual truth. Gray hair is a sign of...

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Conforming to the World

[562 words] One of the most horrific crimes in the history of Israel took place in the days of the weeping prophet Jeremiah. The people built “the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal” (Jer. 19:5). How could God’s people have done something this barbaric? The Lord had warned the Israelites hundreds of years before Jeremiah not to “follow a multitude to do evil” (Exod. 23.2). They were not to follow the ways of Egypt where they had been or the customs of Canaan where they were going (Lev. 18:3). In spite...

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How Do You Feel?

[596 words] God gave us feelings. We feel joy and sadness, anger and fear. These emotions test us. They can help or hinder us in our choice between right and wrong. Who we are and where we spend eternity depends on how we handle them. It feels good to be happy. God wants us to be happy and He tells us how to have real joy in this life and in the next. He gives us richly all things to enjoy (I Tim. 6:17). The promise of heaven causes us to “leap for joy” even in hard times (Luke 6:23)....

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Are You at a Loss?

[559 words] Paul said, “We are perplexed, but not in despair” (2 Cor. 4:8). The word perplexed means more than just being puzzled. It comes from aporeo which means “to be at loss with one’s self, be in doubt; not to know how to decide or what to do, to be perplexed” (Thayer, 66). We might say it means to be at your wit’s end. No man has all the answers. No one knows the best way to handle every situation. Even Paul didn’t. He could work miracles and write by inspiration, but he didn’t always have a clear idea...

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Unique Expressions

[483 words] “And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before” (Gen. 31:2). Jacob could tell by the look on Laban’s face that he was not happy with him. The expression on our face may say more than we realize. God made us social creatures who communicate not only through words but also through subtle and unintentional outward displays. Our facial expressions, gestures, postures, and other forms of body language say something. Our tone of voice conveys a message along with our words. “The poor useth entreaties; but the rich answereth roughly” (Prov....

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Do These Verses Apply?

[554 words] People find ways to get around verses that condemn them. Two groups with different agendas use the same maneuvers to reject passages that are against them. One is the homosexual movement and the other is the feminist movement. Here are some of their arguments . “I’ll Take Jesus Over Paul.” President Barack Obama was asked about same- sex unions in 2008. He gave his support for homosexuality, saying, “If people find that controversial, then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an...

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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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The Wrong Kind of Deterrence

Anti-death penalty groups argue that capital punishment does not prevent further crimes. They are wrong. The Bible says the death penalty is a strong deterrent (Deut. 13:6-11; Ecc. 8:11; Rom. 13:4). If anyone thinks fear of reprisal doesn’t work, then let him consider the effect of fear in a different context: the fear of being punished for doing good. Fear of punishment, whether physical or verbal, keeps a lot of people from doing what is right! Hollywood and the news media belittle and criticize any group that claims to believe in Christ and the Bible. But movie makers and newscasters...

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For The Love of Money

Ananias and Sapphira lied to God about the price of the land they had sold. They died for their greed (Acts 5:1-11). King Ahab pouted like a baby when Naboth refused to sell him his vineyard, so Jezebel killed Naboth and gave the land to her husband. But this evil pair paid for their covetousness when they later became dog food (1 Kings 21:1-23). Judas Iscariot was a thief who stole from the money bag and betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver (John 12:6; Matt. 26:15). In the end he regretted what he had done and hanged himself...

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Thoughts Not to Entertain

If Paul had thought like some today, he would have written to the Ephesians like this: “Paul the apostle to the saints at Ephesus. Brethren, I rejoiced when I went into the theater in your city to behold the shows. The play of Aristophanes was a magnificent story of a man who overcame poverty and poor health as a child to become a famous warrior in Greece. Such zeal! Such courage! I commend this show to the church for your edification, for Christians can learn much from it. Yes, a pagan influence prevailed during the performance. The crowd praised Zeus...

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Charges of Sexual Misconduct

[455 words] Sexual scandals among high-profile people in politics and the media don’t surprise us. We’ve heard so much of it that we’re sick of hearing about it. What else can we expect from Godless people who lie for a living? A few generations ago there was a clear line between what should be mentioned in public and what should be kept private. That line was blurred by Hollywood movies in the mid-1900s. It was erased in the rebellion of the 1960s and 1970s. Now people don’t even have a concept of what is decent and what is shameful. The Bible...

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Watch for Briars

[389 words] “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14). The world has always offered man pleasure. It has always suffocated spirituality because men love darkness rather than light (John 3:19). Men have always wanted to play and have fun rather than work. They have always wanted to be entertained more than to be serious about spiritual matters. This desire is worldliness at its core. What we sometimes fail to realize is that...

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Persons of Conviction

[432 words] A traveling preacher in pioneer days asked a backwoods woman if she had any religious convictions. She said, “Naw, nor my ole man neither. He was tried for hog stealin’ once, but he warn’t convicted.” Some people understand the word conviction about as much as this woman did. Yet conviction is the very heart of what motivates us to live the Christian life. Conviction is being convinced and really believing. It is the assurance and confidence of true Bible faith. What is faith? The essence of faith is conviction. It is being genuinely persuaded. The American Standard Version...

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Securing Your Future?

[473 words] “My family will never go hungry.” A famous athlete was talking about the millions of dollars he had made in his career. In one way we can appreciate his concern for his children and the way he had managed his money. He hadn’t neglected his family or squandered his wealth. But it was tragic that he used frequent profanity in the same interview that had to be edited. Instead of being humble and thankful before God he was arrogant and irreverent. How do people like this become so wealthy? Indirectly, it is because God has made this country so...

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Move On

Joseph was a good young man. He was seventeen when his own jealous brothers sold him to Ishmaelite traders. He was taken to Egypt —away from his family and his home. This was a traumatic experience. But Joseph did not use what happened to him as an excuse. He did not become bitter. He did not become a rebel or a lawbreaker. He no doubt felt hurt and rejected. A lot of people in his shoes would have let their anger bum until they were filled with hate. But Joseph never let the past get the best of him. He...

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The Wicked Never Learn

[364 words] Anyone who is willing can learn the Truth and be saved. Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine” (John 7:17). John wrote, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely’ (Rev. 22:17). Anyone with a truly good and honest heart will accept and obey the Truth. That same honest person will learn from his mistakes. He will sincerely and earnestly strive to correct them. Like the prodigal son, he will learn from experience (Luke 15:11-32). Like Moses, he will listen to good advice (Exod. 18:13-26). Solomon said, “…rebuke...

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Heart to Heart, Face to Facebook

[525 words] “A man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine” (Ecc. 8:1). What about the example you set before others on the internet? Does your Christian light shine on Facebook? Do you use wisdom about what you post or share? There is no question that this avenue of communication is used for good. Family, friends, and church members stay in touch. We learn about good works and good news in other congregations. We hear about needs and tragedies that cause us to pray more. We enjoy clean humor and read encouraging words. This modem marvel is even used to teach...

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Into Texting?

[602 words] The word “text” has taken on a different meaning in this generation. In light of our familiarity with texting, we should be able to relate to a few lessons about the most important text message that has ever been sent. Context. A text of Scripture must be understood in its context. The verses that come before it and the verses that follow it usually shape its meaning. The text of Ecclesiastes 9:5 reads, “The dead know not anything.” But the next verse explains this statement: the dead do not know anything about what is happening “under the sun.”...

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When Change Doesn’t Last

A Confederate soldier was captured and sent to a Maryland prison in 1865. While there he decided to write about his experiences as a soldier in the Civil War. As he described “the vices of army life,” he revealed an old familiar side of human nature. Gambling was a favorite pastime of many soldiers. Some were so addicted to it that they would bet half of their food rations in a card game. Any soldier who tried to live right was ridiculed, and a soldier seen reading his Bible was mocked. A funny thing happened, though, when battle began: “When...

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Cityslickers and Rednecks In the Same Pew

The church is made up of people who are different. In the New Testament people from all kinds of backgrounds were converted and became members of the same congregation. Paul said what mattered is that they were Christians. In Christ he said there is “neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:11). They were to be humble and loving toward each other regardless of culture or social standing (Col. 3:12-15). When you think about how different these groups were, it is amazing that they could have unity. Jews...

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