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TOO BLESSED TO BE STRESSED CHALLENGE 7/1 THRU 12/30, 2013
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One Minute Sermons; RFTH ministry
Topic Started: Dec 10 2012, 06:05 AM (1,323 Views)
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"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." - Hebrews 13:8 NIV

Because I am often asked, "Why doesn't God perform miracles anymore?,"I want to help you understand the answer to this question. In the early Biblical days of the journey of faith, God brought about a large number of miracles to jump-start the people's faith. And while it's true He did that for His people long ago, I have good news for you. His miracles have never stopped. While it's true that God hasn't parted the Red Sea in a while, we can all point to experiences in our lives that can only be explained as miracles.
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"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." - Hebrews 11:1 NIV

I find it so interesting what we will and won't allow ourselves to believe. We know that light travels 186,000 miles a second, even though we've personally never measured it. A scientist can tell us that there 100 trillion stars in the sky, and we accept it without question. We accept as absolute fact that an atom has neutrons and electrons spinning around a nucleus, even though we have never seen any of them. We agree that Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address, and that E does, in fact, equal mc2. We pride ourselves in being logical creatures who demand proof before believing most things. How is it, then, that we accept all these things I mentioned as facts, without ever demanding the proof of their authenticity?

And why is it that so many of us will reject Jesus - risking our eternal souls, even when presented with solid proof? What proof, you may ask? The witness of thousands of people who saw the miracles of Jesus! Testimonies from dozens who witnessed His death, then saw Him alive after His resurrection. And what about the fulfillment of prophecies concerning Jesus? Even after being shown so much solid evidence, many enlightened, logical people reject Jesus as "just some myth for the gullible." In fact, the divinity of Jesus is just about the only thing people refuse to accept, even when evidence is overwhelming. Tell me, where’s the logic in that? But it's not about logic when it comes to Jesus. It's about faith.

What about you? Are you willing to accept the truth of Jesus on faith? In fact, it's the ONLY way you can accept Him. So, go ahead, take that leap of faith. Once you do, your life will be changed forever
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Who Is Jesus? Dec 12 2012

"...All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." - Matthew 28:18 NIV

No person has had more impact on history than Jesus Christ. It is undeniable that He lived and walked in the land of Judea and Israel almost 2000 years ago. But who is He?

He is the visible image of the invisible God. He is God in a person. You want to know what God is like? Look to Jesus. The fullness of God dwells in Him.
He is also the Creator of all creation. He holds all creation together. It is His masterpiece. Creation reveals the greatness of God.
He is the Savior who saves us from our sins. He came to reconcile us with God.
He is the head of the church. He is to the church what the head is to the body.

Once you know who He is, you have a choice--a decision to make. It's the biggest one ever--to trust Him as your Savior and Lord or to reject Him. Who is Jesus? The Bible is clear, but the important thing for you is, do you believe it?
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Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012
The First Lady Of The Faith
"But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart." - Luke 2:19 NIV

The Bible can never be accused of whitewashing the heroes of the faith. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and Peter all had some pretty serious flaws and failures. When we come across a biblical personality who had no recorded obvious flaws and sins, we take note. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is one of those who was always found faithful. And what faith she had! She was a Jewish teenage virgin visited by an angel, and told she would give birth to God's son.

I love Mary's realness. She initially responded like any teenage virgin would today. Disbelief, shock, bewilderment -- probably wondering what her fiance and her family would think. She asked, "How can this be since I am a virgin?" But after the initial shock, she chose to believe God's Word. She was the first to believe in Jesus as her Savior and Lord -- while she carried Him in her womb.

She's the true first lady of the faith. Do you believe as Mary did? What God's Word says about Jesus is true.
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Friday, Dec. 14, 2012
The Real Story Of The Wise Men
"When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of frankincense and of myrrh." - Matthew 2:10-11 NIV

When we think of the wise men who visited Jesus, we normally picture the gifts of gold, frankincense, and (my personal favorite) myrrh that they brought. But if you look closer, you will realize that the real story of the wise men is not found in what they gave, but in what they received. Look at what happened after they acknowledged the star that would lead them to Jesus: Matthew writes, "When they saw the star, they were overjoyed!" You don't have to be a Bible scholar to get it! They were filled with joy and emotion because they were going to do what all of us are created to do - they were submitting to Jesus and worshiping the King!

If you've never encountered Christ, the good news today is that He waits for you, desiring to give you a life of deep joy and satisfaction...and an eternity with Him. That's the good news of Christmas. But if you do know Christ, rejoice that every day you have the privilege of worshiping the King. And one day we will join the everlasting, eternal song that will never end as we see Him crowned the King of Kings and Lord of all!
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Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012
Don't Forget The Reason For The Season
"...you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." - Matthew 1:21 NIV

One type of letter we often get in our household is a birth announcement - someone announcing the birth of a child - a wonderful time of celebration and excitement. But when Jesus Christ was born, the ultimate birth announcement came straight from heaven when God, through His angels, said, "Today in the city of David has been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord."

You may ask, "Why do I need a Savior?"

God's Word is clear that we need a Savior because all of us sin, and in the process, find ourselves separated from God. If we die separated, that means hell...and that's bad news. But Christmas is about good news, because Christ came to pay the penalty for our sins so that we could be forgiven and made right with God. For those who believe, He saves us from sin and, ultimately, hell...and that's pretty important.

As you rush around getting ready for Christmas, remember why He came and believe it. That's the key to having a Merry Christmas.
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Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012
Jesus Just Won't Go Away!
"...whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." - Romans 10:13 NIV

Despite man's efforts to eliminate Christ out of Christmas...out of everyday life...out of government...out of schools...out of the marketplace...in spite of it all, He just won't go away.

Peter Larson writes, "Despite our efforts to keep Him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin's womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked 'No Entrance' and left through a door marked 'No Exit'."

That first Christmas, there was no room for Him in the inn. The world never wants to make room for Christ at Christmas and in everyday life. Man killed Him and sealed the tomb with a huge stone to shut Him out of our lives once and for all. But God removed the stone to prove Jesus will not be shut up or shut out of His plans.

One day Jesus will intrude on history again. The way to be ready is to invite Him into your life today. Will you shut Him out or let Him in?
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Monday, Dec. 17, 2012
A Magnificent Christmas Tradition
"And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.'" - Luke 2:10-11 NIV

Every Christmas Eve service, the members of our church are blessed to hear our Worship Pastor sing “O Holy Night.” This has become such a tradition at our church that the thought of a Christmas Eve service without it is, well, hard to imagine!

Here are some interesting tidbits:
• On Christmas Eve in 1906, Reginald Fessenden, broadcast the first radio program, where he played "O Holy Night" on the violin. Therefore, the carol is the first piece of music to be broadcast on radio.
• "O Holy Night" ("Cantique de Noël") was set to music by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the lyrics of a French poem written by Placide Cappeau, a wine merchant and poet. Cappeau had been asked to write a Christmas poem by a parish priest.
• And here is something I’ve never been able to figure out. Since “O Holy Night” was composed in French, why does the English translation rhyme?

The music is so overpowering in its beauty that we sometimes fail to notice the perfection of the lyrics. Read these lyrics, a magnificent poem, and contemplate the wonder and blessing of the birth of Jesus.

Oh holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees!
Oh, hear the angels' voices!
Oh night divine, Oh night when Christ was born;
Oh night divine, Oh night, Oh night Divine.
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Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012
God Did It Because He Loves Us
"...[Jesus] humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross...God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name..." - Philippians 2:8-9 NIV

A few years ago, a famous designer by the name of Versace was murdered in Miami. Andrea Lee was quoted as having asked Versace earlier if he believed in God, and this is what he said: "Yes, I believe in God but I'm not the kind of religious person who goes to church, who believes in the fairy tale of Jesus born in the stable with the donkey. That? No, I'm not that stupid. I can't believe in that God with all the power that He has, would have Himself born in a stable. It would have been too uncomfortable."

Here was a hero of contemporary culture who said he believed in God, but didn't need all that "Jesus" stuff. But the wonder of the Christmas story is that God, with all His power, humbled Himself to become a man and, even more, to die for us - to be our Savior. There was certainly no degree of comfort in that. God did this because He loves you and me, and that's a God worth believing.

Right from the Heart
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Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012
The Original Christmas Light Display
"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ - John 8:12 NIV

My wife, Anne, and I often ride through nearby neighborhoods, enjoying the Christmas lights. Ever so often we’ll come across a truly spectacular display covering the house and yards and trees and she’ll say, “Now that really is over the top there!” And I’ll say, “Yeah, bless their hearts.” (That’s a Southern gentleman’s way of saying, “You know it really is pitiful looking, isn’t it?”)

But whatever the case, I’ve got good news for you if you’re one of those that have all those lights. You see, lights are an important symbol of the meaning of Christmas. Jesus entered this world to be the Light in the darkness, and God got in on the original light show. After all, the angels appeared to the shepherds, and whenever angels appear they often have this dazzling array around them. And then there was the star over Bethlehem that the wise men were drawn to.

So the next time you go driving around looking at the lights, remember the coming of Jesus, “the Light of the world.”
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Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012
The King In A Trough?
"...and she gave birth to her first son. Because there were no rooms left in the inn, she wrapped the baby with pieces of cloth and laid him in a feeding trough." - Luke 2:7 NCV

Read that scripture again. This is the New Century version of the most familiar pieces of scripture in the Bible. What’s that? Not quite the way you recall the story? You ask, “What happened to the soft, swaddling clothes and the quaint little manger?” It’s easy for us to sanitize the reality of the situation, and thereby remove some of the irony. The fact is the Savior of Mankind, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, was wrapped in rags and set to rest in an icky trough that was used to feed pigs and cows.

Why would a mother allow this for her child? Well, she had no choice, because there was no room for them anywhere else. Perhaps a better question would be, “Why would our Father permit His Child to be treated in this manner?” Well, in addition to prophecy being fulfilled, maybe God also knew that His Child had to experience humanity. He needed to know what it was like to be homeless, helpless, and in poverty. Later, He needed to understand hunger, the death of loved ones, persecution, and even death itself. Jesus needed to experience mankind – as He came to die for mankind.

And that, my friends, is the real, unvarnished Christmas story.

Right from the Heart
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Friday, Dec. 21, 2012
Who Found Christmas?
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." - Hebrews 11:6 NIV

It's easy to miss the real meaning of Christmas, but the story of Christmas tells us who found it:

The Shepherds. They were social nobodies, yet God sent them a supernatural birth announcement through the angels. They believed God's Word, searched in faith to find Jesus, and they did. They found Christmas.
The Wise Men. These guys were pagans from another culture. They studied the stars for insight. God spoke to them right where they were in life. They stepped out in faith to follow a star that appeared in the sky, understanding it meant the birth of a special King. They found Christmas when they found Jesus.

The shepherds found Christmas because they believed the Word of God. The wise men found Christmas because they sought Jesus. Find Jesus as Savior and Lord, and you'll find Christmas - guaranteed!
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Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012
Fully ExperienceThe Wonder Of Christmas
"...an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.'" - Matthew 1:20

I have to smile every time I talk about this scenario. Imagine your high school honey, whom you love and believe is a good person because she doesn't believe in sex before marriage, saying, "I'm pregnant, but don't be mad, because I'm still a virgin." How would you respond?

This scenario really happened about 2000 years ago. In fact, the guy was named Joseph and his pregnant girlfriend was Mary. She told him God caused her to become pregnant.

At first, Joseph didn't believe Mary, and thought about breaking up with her. When an angel appeared to Joseph and told him Mary was telling the truth, he stayed with her, believing the Lord in faith.

For the rational, secular, scientific mind of the twenty-first century, this story is incredible. But it's the story of Christmas--the story of Jesus' birth. The question: Do you believe? Be it Jesus' birth or His resurrection, I want you to know you've got to believe it fully to experience the wonder of Christmas.
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Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012
There Is No "Lonely" In Christmas
"...and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 28:20 NIV

Some feel it in a crowd; others feel it when alone. And some feel it during the holidays, such as Christmas. Sociologists say that never before in history have so many people lived so close together and felt so far apart. Loneliness is a major problem. There's no doubt that singles bars are filled with people battling loneliness. A divorced person, tired of one-night stands, recently said, "Sex is readily available in the American singles scenes, but friendship is not."

I propose to you that one can still be alone, but not lonely. A person will never find victory over loneliness until he learns to enjoy being alone. At the root of all loneliness is alienation from God.

Years ago, a man named Augustine espoused that God has made us for Himself. Our soul is restless until we find rest in Him. We may seek to fill the void with activities, crowds, and noise, but a nagging loneliness will always be there until we have a personal relationship with God. When we find that, we have found the key to being alone, but not lonely.


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Monday, Dec. 24, 2012
Bah Humbug Or Merry Christmas?
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." - Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

Scrooge is making a comeback this Christmas, reappearing in many hearts. So, are you more like Scrooge or like a true Christian? Let's do some comparison illustrations:

Scrooge is stingy as Hell. True Christian is generous as Heaven who gave us God's Son.
Scrooge hoards all he can. True Christian gives all he can.
Scrooge fears he'll lose it all. True Christian trusts in the Lord for all.
Scrooge is haughty to the poor. True Christian loves the poor and helps those in need.
Scrooge worships at the Church of Dow Jones, while sometimes claiming belief in God. True Christian worships the Lord while professing to be a sinner saved by grace.
Scrooge resents joy in bad economic times. True Christian feels joy for the Good News of Jesus' birth.
Scrooge feels entitled to all he's earned. True Christian feels thankful for what he has.
Scrooge says "Bah Humbug" to Christmas. True Christian says "Merry Christmas" because Jesus the Savior is born.

Are you like Scrooge or Christian? What would God say? It's time for the true Christian to make a comeback this Christmas.
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Amen, Candy.

There are times I feel like a Scrooge, but the Lord always is there and will always win.
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Scrooge is stingy as hell, and you are not, Barbara. You are a true Christian, and Light will shine upon you. God gives us comfort when others forsake. May you hear, soon, from those that you care for!
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Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012
Giving Gifts At Christmas
"...they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." - Matthew 2:11

Did you know that giving gifts at Christmas didn't begin with Santa Claus? Well, it didn't! It began with some men who visited Jesus when He was a young child. They became known as the Three Wise Men. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Gold is the gift for a king, an expensive gift symbolizing belief that Jesus was born to be a king. Frankincense is the gift for a priest, reminding us that Jesus is the ultimate High Priest, a mediator between God and man. But myrrh was an unusual gift for a child. It's a precious spice or perfume used to anoint a body at death. Why myrrh? It was a prophetic gift. Jesus had come to die to be our Savior - to give His life for our sins.

King. Priest. Savior. Three gifts which reveal to us, at Christmas, who Jesus is.
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Solomon and His Childlike Faith - Day 1

"Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties." - 1 Kings 3:7 NIV

I am going to send out a series of devotions that I feel we need to see again. They're perfect for ending one year and beginning a new one.

Solomon was the wisest of all men and we all can quote some of his proverbs, but today, so many parents are watching their children graduating from college with, seemingly, nowhere to go and not knowing which way to turn. Today, let's start with the wisdom of childlike faith.

Think back to the time when you finally got out of the military or college, and you were taking that first job. Or maybe it was when you had your first child, and all of the sudden, you realized you had to act like an adult. I'll never forget those feelings when I finished college, moved to Augusta, and took a job in corporate America. This was before Anne and I got married, and years before I went into the ministry. For several weeks, I'd wake up in the morning, and think, "You know, I'm supposed to be an adult, but I feel like a kid." I was scared to death.

That's what Solomon felt like when he unexpectedly and suddenly became the King of all Israel. He felt overwhelmed, yet he had all this responsibility. He was called to lead a great nation that began with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph - a nation with extraordinary, Godly leaders like Moses and Joshua, and even his own father, David. Solomon reflected on all of this, and said, "I feel like a little child." Now, think about that for a minute. Children are utterly dependent on their parents. So, when Solomon, since his earthly father had died, spoke to his Heavenly Father, all he could say was, "I feel as a little child." He expressed an utter dependence on his Heavenly Father. That is not a bad place for a king to begin. And it's not a bad place for all of us to be, either.

Approach your life as a little child, completely dependent on your Heavenly Father. He will provide; He will never disappoint. With the faith of a child, we can live like mature adults.
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Solomon's Wish For Wisdom - Day 2
"The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, 'Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.'" - 1 Kings 3:10-12 NIV

Here's number two in the list - the right wish. I remember as a child playing the game of "Three Wishes." We would all tell our stories of what we would wish for if a magic genie appeared and granted us anything we wanted. Of course, there would be wishes for money - lots of it - and to be a hall-of-fame baseball player, a superpower, and other rich fantasies. I always thought I was so clever in asking for unlimited wishes.

Years ago, a young King of Israel asked for and received the greatest gift from God. He could have asked for his enemies to be destroyed or for a long life, or for more power, or even great wealth. Instead, he asked for wisdom. Solomon asked for the understanding in his heart to be able to know the right decisions for the best interests of the people. He wanted the wisdom of how to rule. And my friends, few things are more important to great leadership than wisdom.

Know this: wisdom is not knowledge. A lot of brilliant people have no wisdom at all. Wisdom is the ability to assimilate that knowledge to make decisions that are right, wise, and best for all concerned. God gives us the key to wisdom, which is being willing to listen to the Word of God and obey it. Solomon "wished" for the right thing. We should follow his example whenever we find ourselves placed in a position of trust, responsibility, and authority.
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Solomon's Clear Mission - Day 3
"I intend, therefore, to build a temple for the Name of the LORD my God, as the LORD told my father David, when he said, 'Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my Name.'" - 1 Kings 5:5 NIV

Onto day three of delving into Solomon's examples this week. Now, the first thing to understand about Solomon is that God's mission for him was clear from the very beginning. He was to build a great temple for the Lord. Interestingly, Solomon's father, David, also had the same vision, but it was not his mission to carry out. God knew David was a warrior, not a builder, and so He saved this particular goal for David's son, Solomon.

Solomon gave the goal and the mission to the people of Israel, helped them to understand what his mission was and challenged them to carry out it out. The timing was right for this. The enemies had been defeated. It was a time to follow God's will.

Are you clear on your life mission? Are you clear on your purpose? Can you express it in a brief sentence just like Solomon could? If you are a leader, are you clear on your organization's mission and the role you are to play in that goal? Are you very clear about some God-given goals - goals that God has given you to help fulfill that mission? Do you communicate that mission clearly?

Follow Solomon's example: begin with a clear mission and communicate that mission to those who are helping you meet that goal. It's an absolute key to successful living.
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Solomon Ahead Of His Time - Day 4
"Without consultation, plans are frustrated. But, with many counselors they succeed." - Proverbs 15:22 NIV

The fourth in the study is realizing how ahead of his time Solomon was in what we now refer to as "networking." Former President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair were often considered "soul mates." As the first Baby Boomer leaders of their nations, they also had similar political philosophies. People marveled at how well these two charismatic leaders got along. But, it's also interesting to note that when George Bush succeeded President Clinton, Tony Blair reached out to him, as well. The two also seemed to get along splendidly and worked together quite well. Blair proved that he was not just a friend of the President, but really, a friend of the United States.

There was a similar relationship between Solomon and Hiram, the king of the Phoenicians. Solomon recognized that he needed others to help him fulfill his mission. He needed people with insight and resources he did not have. The Phoenicians were great ship builders and great seafaring people. Hiram had been a friend of King David and when he heard that Solomon was the new king, he reached out to him and offered his assistance. Solomon had enough humility as a leader to recognize that he needed not only the people within his own nation, but people of other nations, people outside his place of responsibility. Good leaders reach out to others, collecting wisdom and support from every source available. Remember, God's Word tells us to seek wise counsel. It worked for Solomon, it will work for you.
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Solomon Organizing And Delegating - Day 5
"King Solomon conscripted laborers from all Israel-thirty thousand men." - 1 Kings 5:13 NIV

Day five, we're talking about the fact that Solomon was a builder. And he wasn't just any builder - he was a master builder. He had extraordinary organizational and exceptional administrative abilities to help gather good people around him, and clearly explain their individual responsibilities for carrying out the mission. He knew how to organize. He knew how to delegate.

Look at the massive workforce Solomon organized. I Kings explains, "Now King Solomon levied forced laborers from all Israel; and the forced laborers numbered 30,000 men. He sent them to Lebanon, 10,000 a month in relays; they were in Lebanon a month and two months at home." In other words, he has these forced laborers, probably slaves, working four months of the year. And then eight months they could stay and work as laborers on private farms. But, that's not all. The Bible also describes other sectors of this massive workforce. "Now Solomon had 70,000 transporters and 80,000 hewers of stone in the mountains, besides Solomon's 3,300 chief deputies, who were over the project and who ruled over the people who were doing the work." Hundreds of thousands of people were involved in this extraordinary project.

Solomon organized all these various sub-contractors, yet everybody was clear on their own responsibility. Solomon set an excellent example of the need for a leader to organize and delegate.
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Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013
A Change For The Better
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away, behold, new things have come!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Ahh...2013...another New Near. The old, 2012, has gone and the new, 2013, has come, ready or not! Most of us will admit we have character traits or habits we would like to change. Some of us even try to modify our behavior. But just changing outward behavior is like rolling back the odometer on a car. You reduce the numbers from 200,000 to 20,000, but you still have a car with 200,000 miles on it.

However, there is hope for the person who sincerely desires to change. The power to change like that means admitting we can't do it on our own. Remember, lasting change comes from within. We need the help of the Lord.

The Bible says if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone and new has come. When we give our lives to Jesus Christ, He transforms us--changes us from the inside out. Instead of just rolling back the odometer and being the same old person inside, He gives us a spiritual heart transplant.

Now, that's a change for the better. And a change that lasts.
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Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013
What Does The Lord Require Of You?
"...the righteous man shall live by faith." - Galatians 3:11 NIV

God's Word says, "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God."

Think about it. Doing justice is being concerned for those who are left out, looked over, abused, and oppressed. Loving kindness is being considerate, thoughtful, and actively working for the good of others. Walking humbly with God is seeing God and self from the right perspective, thankful for His grace.

Today, when it seems that religious faith is seen as negative and even bigoted, I hope you will consider God's Word. Only one person in all of history has lived up to this standard, and that was Jesus Christ. He alone was just and kind and walked with His Father, God. He can help you live out life today as a demonstration of what true faith is. Why not try it?
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Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013
Going Nowhere Fast?
"He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life." - 1 John 5:12

Are you racing through life going nowhere fast?
Have you ever taken time to pause and figure out why you're here? Don't be shortsighted, focusing on this life alone. Keep eternity in mind. God created all of us for a purpose.

I recommend developing a life purpose statement. A man once told me his purpose statement was to "Get all you can; can all you get; and sit on the can!" I'd say his statement is REALLY shortsighted! (I really hope that when you develop your purpose statement, it'll be more than that.)

So, what do you think is God's reason for putting you on this earth?

Here's a hint. It becomes clear when you get to know the person of Jesus Christ. With Him, it's amazing how all things become clear. Otherwise, you end up like the masses, too busy to take time to know why you're here and too lost to know where you're going.

Stop for a second. Take a deep breath. Look up. Christ will help you discover the purpose of your life. You might just be surprised what it may be!
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Friday, Jan. 4, 2013
Christ Invaded Enemy Territory
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword." - Matthew 10:34 NIV

Many Christians think this verse contains a contradiction. There is no contradiction. It merely has the appearance of being a contradiction. Read the complete chapter of Matthew 10, not only verse 34, to see that verse in its context and the whole point explained.

Consider this:

One thing is relationship between God and believers.
Another thing is relationships between believers and non-believers.

What did he mean by “sword” and how does this reconcile with His mission on earth? Understand this: Jesus was alerting His disciples that divisions within families and even violence will start when people decide to follow Jesus. Jewish people considered those who accepted Jesus as Savior as if they were dead, not longer loving them. That is the sword Jesus was talking about in that verse.

The reason Christ brings a sword is because He has invaded enemy territory. When Christ left His throne in heaven and came to the earth to be the Savior for mankind, Christ invaded the enemy territory of the evil one, who has so many of the world in captivity. And the fact is slave owners do not willingly give up their slaves. Think of the response of the Egyptians when Moses said, “Let my people go!” The Egyptians resisted mightily; they didn’t want to lose all that free labor. Think about the Old South. Do you think many of our forefathers were eager to let the slaves go? No! It was all about money, pride, and arrogance.

Well, it’s the same with the devil. When he has a person enslaved to sin, he fights like the dickens when someone tries to free that person from his captivity. That’s exactly why Christ came; to save those in captivity and to confront the evil one who enslaves people to sin. And that battle creates division - a division that is a natural byproduct in the war for your soul.
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Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013
You Call Them Blessed?
"For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills." - Psalm 73:3-5 NIV

I had lunch with a man who mentioned that something was really bugging him. "I really don't have a problem with the fact that sometimes bad things happen to good people. I understand that God gives man free will and that sometimes those choices - even good ones - have bad results. I'm actually OK with that."

"Then what is bugging you?" I asked.

"Well, I don't understand why good things happen to bad people. Why do criminals get away with crimes? Why do corrupt politicians have their sins exposed and yet see their popularity soar?" I was about to impart some brilliant theology when he gave me my opening. "And why is it that an atheist famous for calling Christians a bunch of losers is allowed to accumulate fame and wealth beyond imagination? Why has he been so blessed?"

"Well, let's see," I began. "You say this man is an atheist?" He nodded. "And, if I'm not mistaken, the fellow you are talking about has had several marriages break up?" Again he nodded. "So here is a man with a miserable family life and - unless he changes his views on Jesus Christ - will never see heaven. And you call him blessed?" I continued. "Let me ask you something. Despite his fame and riches, would you trade places with this man?"

"No way. Not even for a second," he replied.

Would you?
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Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013
How God Feels About Divorce
"I hate divorce, says the Lord God of Israel..." - Malachi 2:16

Ever wonder how God really feels about divorce? Well, he hates it. Here are some reasons why:

First, He observes that divorce so often springs from adultery - a complete violation of the marital bonds.
Secondly, He notes that divorce is sometimes the result of a man who deals treacherously with the wife of his youth - in other words, he casually trades her in for a newer model.
God hates divorce because it treats the sacred institution with contempt, as the couple disregards the covenant commitment they made before God.
But perhaps God's greatest reason for hating divorce is because of the harm it brings to children. The Scripture refers to "Godly offspring," and how difficult it is to have Godly offspring with the children of divorce. Why is this? Because these children have seen the most sacred human relationship trivialized and destroyed. They have been disillusioned. And what do children do when they are disillusioned? They become confused and angry, and they often blame God; even worse, they blame themselves.

Human nature tends to turn against God, rebel against God, and blame God for the sinfulness of man. The best way to have Godly offspring is to have Godly parents who believe it is worth the time and effort it will take to save their marriages.
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Monday, Jan. 7, 2013
The Cross Is Stronger Than Any Sin
"...and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." - 1 Peter 2:24

You know, believe it or not, condemnation is not our real mission. But, we Christians have a pretty good track record of condemning sins, particularly those in which we are not currently participating! Do you realize that God demands that we embrace the spirit of Jesus? While we are to hate sin, we are to love the sinner.

Anyone who is a sinner (which, by the way, includes ALL of us) can take great comfort in this fact: the Gospel clearly states that Christ paid the penalty for your sins. Anyone who confesses and repents of their sins will receive forgiveness and salvation. Recognize that Christ did not die just for certain sins, or "little" sins, as we sometimes like to say, but for all sins. Never fear that your life has been so sinful or that your sins are so very horrid that you are beyond the power of the cross. And certainly, never declare that other people are so sinful that they are beyond forgiveness. The cross of Jesus Christ is stronger than any sin!

Yes, we Christians must take a firm stand against sin. But we completely fail in our duties if we do not pair this condemnation with the proclamation that the cross of Christ is big enough to forgive any sin.
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Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013
Literal Truth Or Parable?
"When He was alone, the Twelve and the others around Him asked Him about the parables. He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!" - Mark 4:10-12

Have you ever heard anyone say, "I believe everything in the Bible, literally?" Well, if you have, that person is probably misguided. Why is that? There is a big difference in saying that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and saying that every word should be taken literally. Take a look at the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: Jesus said, "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it's better for you to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." Jesus was not actually urging us to pluck our eyes out. He was talking about the seriousness of sin, and how we must repent of sin, lest we wind up in hell. But, if every word Jesus uttered is taken literally, every one of us must immediately gouge out both eyes!

Remember that Jesus taught in parables, metaphors and allegories. He used these devices to make the broader spiritual point. Does that water down Scripture? Absolutely not. Jesus was simply using memorable illustrations to communicate perfect truth. And that's where the guidance of the Holy Spirit comes in to play; to help us to distinguish between literal truth and a parable, thereby allowing us to understand the rich truths of our faith.
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Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013
If You're Open-Minded, You Don't Fear The Truth
"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised." - Romans 1:25 NIV

Several years ago, the local school board required high school science textbooks to have a sticker attached. This sticker said simply, "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."

Notice that there was nothing in the sticker that advocated a belief in God. Neither did it even mention Creationism. It simply advised the students to ask questions and form their beliefs based on what they conclude from the evidence. This was really all about good education, about considering different theories with an open mind, which is a part of learning, to be able to consider different outlooks about life. Despite this, the federal courts later demanded that these simple stickers be removed from all textbooks.

Education is about the free flow of ideas. When you have a theory as controversial as evolution then certainly part of a good education is considering diverse views. In addition, the scientific method itself demands skepticism and examination. Good science requires that theories stand up to probing questions. Why do evolutionists fear similar questioning? What do they have to fear? Truth has no fear. Is there really any difference with the Nazi book burners and how some scientists, educators, and government officials respond to alternative theories concerning evolution? The mindset is the same.

Open-minded people don't fear the truth - they seek it. And when they truly seek Truth, they find God.
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Friday, Jan. 11, 2013
Are You On The Winning Team?
"In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south." - Zechariah 14:4 NAS

It always brings fans to their feet. In golf, it's a hole-in-one. In basketball, it's the slam-dunk. In baseball, it's the home run. But in football, it's the touchdown.

The objective is simple. The football team with the most points wins, and usually that means the most touchdowns. But the greatest and most exciting touchdown has yet to occur, and when it does, the players on the winning team will go wild with joy. Those on the losing team will be devastated with defeat.

The Bible tells about it in the Old and New Testaments. The Messiah will touch down on the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem when Jesus returns.

Do you believe it? Will you be ready for the ultimate feat?

How you respond in faith to Christ determines whether you are on the winning team or losing team - forever.

It is my hope that you'll be able to celebrate the touchdown, when Jesus comes!
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Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013
Hasn't God Always Met Our Needs?
"I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:12-13 NAS

When you take the time to sort through your yearly expenses, it can be a sobering experience. Believe me, I know. First I paid the MasterCard bill and then my quarterly estimated state and federal taxes. This was followed by an exorbitant check for out-of-state college tuition, which had risen 17% that year. (At that point, I had that mental picture of a giant vacuum cleaner in the sky, sucking up all the money we had.) Then I checked on our retirement account, noting it had, for the third year in a row, dropped double digits. I began to have this very sinking feeling of despair coming over me. I must confess to you that I walked around really discouraged for a few days.

And then the Holy Spirit began to minister to me. It was like the Lord said, "Haven't you paid all your bills? Haven't I met all of your needs? Haven't I ALWAYS met all of your needs? What makes you think that after all these years of so-called spiritual maturity that I'm no longer going to meet your needs?"

Let me tell you something: that was very convicting. And then the Lord said to my heart, "Bryant, it never was yours in the first place. And whether you're riding high for one year and down in the dumps the next, that's My decision. It has always been My decision. It has never been yours. I'm just interested in you seeking to manage what I entrust to you, to the best of your ability, and trust Me with the rest."
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Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013
You CAN Face a Giant!
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13 NAS

If ever there was a giant challenge, David found it in Goliath, a hardened warrior who was nine-and-a-half-feet tall and filled his enemies with terror. Yet David, just a teenage shepherd, was willing to take him on. His people thought he was crazy but he had faith in the Lord and remembered how God had strengthened him in the past.

He said, "When a lion or bear came and took a lamb from my flock, I went after it and struck the beast and killed it. The Lord who delivered me from the power of the lion and the bear will deliver me from this giant."

And He did. David slew Goliath. He faced a giant challenge and was victorious because he had been faithful day by day.

When the big public challenges come, we'll be ready if we're faithful to God in the various behind-the-scenes daily tasks. It's the faithfulness in the small things that is key to meeting life's giant challenges victoriously.
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Monday, Jan. 14, 2013
Should Christians Only Marry Christians?
"Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?" - 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 NAS

Did you know that Christians are called to marry Christians? Why, you might ask? First, it's just common sense. If Christ is your priority and you marry someone whose priority is politics, music, work, sports, education, or anything other than Christ, in time, you'll find yourselves drifting apart. God's practical instruction that Christians are to be bound with Christians allows us to be joined together in a deep relationship of love, respect, compassion, and understanding.

But that's not all. If it's important that Christians marry Christians, then it is just as important that Christians should only date Christians! Why? Well, the fact is that we tend to marry people that we date! Christians must be cautious about getting into a serious relationship with anyone not committed to following Jesus Christ. Determine their commitment right up front. Ask them if they're committed in their relationship to Christ - not just mouthing words and professing things they don't mean in their hearts. Otherwise, you're choosing that person as your priority over Christ, which is clearly outside the will of God.
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Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013
We All Will Face Death
"He who is not with Me is against Me..." - Luke 11:23a NIV

When there is a huge crisis of some sort, people often run to their local churches. Whether it's earthquakes, devastating hurricanes, terrorist attacks, mass shootings...they all cause many to seek comfort and protection from their Creator. I've got news for you. You will be grossly disappointed if your motivation for coming back to God is to escape danger. God does not promise that we'll escape danger or even death. Whether it's a terrorist attack or a heart attack, whether it's a plane crash or a car crash, we will all face death.

Instead, come to the Lord with a spirit of repentance that says, "Lord, I realize how much of my life has ignored Your will and focused on my own self-interests. God, I now come to You with a repentant spirit. I want to call on the forgiveness and salvation of Christ. I know it's a dangerous world we live in, but Lord, I want to get things right with You from here on. I want to do things Your way through the salvation of Christ and the teachings of scripture."

Being ready for the hereafter is the best way to live for today. You will never be disappointed if you will take advantage of this opportune time to get right with God. He not only extends forgiveness, but will give you the promise of abundant, eternal life with Him now and forever.

So what's it going to be? Are you with God or not? You're either in or you're out.
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Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013
Holy Spirit Insight
"For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." - Matthew 12:40

Are you sometimes troubled while studying the Bible, because you'll come across passages that just don't seem to add up? They may even appear contradictory, and that's disconcerting, because the Word of God just shouldn't contradict itself. For instance, in my early days of Christian growth, I was troubled by the above passage in Matthew. Now, this really bothered me, because no matter how many times I counted, I couldn't see how Jesus was in the tomb for three nights! But several years later, a teacher explained that first century writers would count a day and a night if it was any part of that day or night. So, Jesus died on Friday and was dead for Friday night, Saturday night, and part of Sunday - thus in that day, it was considered three nights. That insight pulled it all together for me; it finally made perfect sense.

In that light - I am so thankful that we have the Holy Spirit and wise teachers to help us understand things we don't see when we first read the Word. That's why Bible studies are so vitally important and why we need Spirit-filled teachers to guide us. Most of all, that is why we need the Holy Spirit to give us insight into areas that we can't understand on our own.
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Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013
Wasn't She There, Too?
"One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, 'Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?' Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her." - 2 Samuel 11:2-4

Once the adultery occurred between David and Bathsheba, a long list of cover-up sins involving deceit, murder, lying began. But have you noticed that despite the horrendous consequences of what appeared to be a consensual act, the Bible's perspective seems to only condemn David. What about Bathsheba? She took part, too, didn't she?

She was a beautiful woman, and beauty in a woman is great power. Don't kid yourself, Bathsheba was aware of her power when she bathed outside by the moonlight, knowing the King was in town and her husband was away.

Even so, the Bible puts the responsibility of this sin on David. The person in authority is the one held responsible for the deed. David was the man in power. He was the King, and he had the major responsibility for this sin, no matter how cooperative Bathsheba may or may not have been. He used his power and authority to bring this sin to fruition and he was held fully accountable.

Yes, it takes two to commit the act, but the one in power is always the most responsible.
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Friday, Jan. 18, 2013
We May Not Understand It, But It's Still True
"For there are three that bear record (witness) in heaven; the Father, the Word (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one." - 1 John 5:7

The Trinity is a Biblical concept of God that has confused men for 2000 years. It is important to recognize that we don't believe in three Gods. We believe in one God in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, always in harmony with one another. The Holy Spirit will never guide us to do something that is contrary to the commands of God.

Here is an example of someone saying the Holy Spirit led in a direction contrary to the commands of God. In 2004, there was a USA Today headline declaring, "Gay Episcopal Bishop Says Holy Spirit Led Us." The article went on to quote the new priest as saying that, while he genuinely regrets the pain this caused some believers, he saw no reason to repent because "the Holy Spirit led us." Now, my friends, when pseudo-spiritual leaders give credit to the Holy Spirit for guiding man to do something that God says is evil, this is nothing but blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

God loves all sinners. He sent His Son to die to pay the penalty for all sinners. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and the need to repent and receive God's gift of salvation through Christ. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are always in perfect harmony. Everything the Holy Spirit counsels us to do will be in obedience to the commands of God. The Trinity is about the perfect harmony of one God in three persons.
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Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013
The Bible - Read It!
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light to my path." - Psalm 119:105

As of 2010, the Bible was the best selling book of all time - topping 6 billion in sales, not including internet distribution or downloads. So why is it that so many people buy it, but never read it? No book is richer or more timeless than the Bible.

Here is some information about the Bible:

* All Scripture is inspired by God. Amazing! Over forty authors, who wrote over a period of 1600 years, were all inspired by the same God to give a clear and coherent message.

It's also profitable for:

* Teaching--about God, man, and life.

* Reproof--it tells us when we go wrong and need to get right.

* Correction--it helps us get on the right track. Like a good doctor, it points out the problem and tells us the cure.

* Training in right living--it's a manual for living in a way that's pleasing to God.

Scripture shows us how we can face every challenge with wisdom and strength. I hope you'll read the Bible with the faith that God wants to speak to you through His Word. You just may find the answer to life.
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Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013
Is God Still In The Business of Healing?
"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people." "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. - Matthew 4:23 & Hebrews 13:8 NIV

In many accounts of the gospels, we see that Jesus physically healed people. As a result of the physical healing, the oppressed, depressed and hopeless were supernaturally cured in more ways than just in their bodies.

The book of Matthew is full of stories of Jesus healing the sick. But does He still do that today? As the scripture says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." There are many skeptics in the world who would say Jesus can’t heal today, but there are millions more who can testify that He does.

The Lord is asking us today, "Do you want to be made well?" Whether it be physical healing, spiritual, emotional or financial healing, nothing is too great or too small for our Lord! Perhaps we've just forgotten to ask Him!

I promise you, He is still healing people today, just as he did two thousand years ago.
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Monday, Jan. 21, 2013
Ye Who Are Weary, Come Home
"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate." - Luke 15:22-24

There's a wonderful scene in the parable of the prodigal son when the wayward son finally comes to his senses and begins to walk home. What does that father do? He runs and embraces him. There's joy and celebration.

I know that's a picture of redemption. I know Jesus is talking to us about what it's like to come home when we confess our sins, and finally come back to the Lord. I know that's the point. But, I also think it's a beautiful picture of finally coming home to heaven, after the weariness and demands of this very difficult life and world. Then when we finally come home to heaven, our Heavenly Father is there, and He runs to embrace us! He's full of joy! He's got those tears in His eyes, as only a Father can have when His son comes home! And the celebration begins, and it never, ever ends! Because heaven will be like coming home. It's like home is supposed to be. So I ask you my friends, when your days in this life are done, will you be able to go home?

Come home, come home. Ye who are weary, come home.
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling - calling, oh, sinner - come home.
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Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013
Are You Making A Fool Of Yourself?
"In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:6

There's a story in the Bible that tells of a man named Balaam in Numbers 22. He was headed in the wrong direction. He wanted to please himself and was ignoring God, and so God spoke to him through his donkey. Balaam was furiously mad at the animal! He argued with it and almost beat it to death until he realized that God was seeking to speak to him, to help him get on the right path. Believe me, you make a fool of yourself when you argue with an ass.

Sometimes God will go to extraordinary means to get our attention when we are hell-bent in going our own self-destructive way. It could come through a financial jolt or through a rebellious child. When those times come, getting angry may be foolish, but taking time to listen may be the key to seeking God’s guidance about the right way to go.

Is God trying to get your attention to keep you from making a fool of yourself? Take time to listen and He'll change your course and get you where you need to go.
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Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013
Pray For Your Leaders
"However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme." - 2 Samuel 12:14

David had committed a horrible succession of sins. When Nathan confronted David with his sins, David - and give him credit for this - finally confessed and sought the Lord's forgiveness. God did forgive him, but serious consequences remained. The enemies of Israel would now be making fun of God. David's actions had been so alien to the Lord's teachings that he was causing God to be ridiculed. "After all," they would say, "if this man of God who is supposed to be a good man that is your king, if he acts like this...guilty of adultery, murdering the woman's husband and then marrying the woman...hey - you are no different from us!"

All of us have been around ministries when a spiritual leader falls into sin, and we know the disillusionment within the church. But we also know the mocking outside the body of Christ. "He's supposed to be a man of God! He's no different from me or anybody else!" And that is yet another negative consequence for sin in our lives. Pray for your spiritual leaders. Pray for your government leaders. Pray for those in authority over you, because their sins have terrible repercussions for the lives of many. Pray that they will do right and spare us all the disillusionment.
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Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013
We Are Not Made To Be Robots
"The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'” - Psalm 14:1a

The famous atheist/philosopher, Bertrand Russell, said in his book, Why I’m Not a Christian: “There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not, myself, feel that any person who is profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.” And here is how the scholar C.S. Lewis responded: “How could God be loving if there was not hell?”

While that sounds like a bit of twisted logic, it is actually a brilliant observation. Let me explain. If someone has rejected God all of their life, the last place he wants to spend eternity is with the very one he rejected. God loves us enough to give us the freedom to decide about a relationship with Him. God did not make us robots programmed to do right. He made us human. And humans are made in the image of God. That means we can think, we can reason, we can make choices. God desires a loving relationship with us. And if we choose to reject God, then certainly He is going to give us the freedom to continue to be separated from Him. Love does not force certain behavior. Love gives the privilege of rejection. God allows all mankind the freedom to choose and to decide. How could God be a loving God if He didn’t?
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Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013
The Good And Bad Of The Gospel
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” - Mark 1:15 NIV

Did you realize that the word "Gospel" means good news that follows bad news. Well, we know the Gospel gives us good news, so what's the bad news?

The bad news is that we're all natural born sinners.

It gets worse.

Sin separates us from God.

It gets worse.

If we die separated from God because of our sin, we'll spend eternity in Hell, separated from God. If that's not bad enough, hold on.

It gets worse.

The only way to avoid Hell by works is by absolute perfection. And nobody has ever done that - except one. His name is Jesus.

Here's where the Good News that follows bad news begins:

God loves us so much that He sent His son, Jesus, to save us from sin, death, and Hell.
He did that when He died on the cross and paid the penalty for our sins.
If we acknowledge that our sin has separated us from God and trust Him as our only hope of salvation, we receive salvation from sin, death and Hell.
And more Good News - He gives us abundant, eternal life that begins in the here and now the moment we accept salvation through faith.

Now that's Good News that follows mighty bad news! I hope you believe it!
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Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013
A Great Communicator
"Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son." - 1 John 2:22

If someone were to ask you who you felt was the best communicator in the world, who would it be? Is it someone like Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan, President Obama, or someone else? The Bible talks about a great communicator, but it might not be the one you would immediately think of. This person will come at the end of time with a twisted message and a deceptive agenda. He's called the Antichrist.

He will be a world leader and extraordinarily gifted, with charisma and a tremendous intellect. He will appear to be a good man bringing unity to the world, but all the while he is the embodiment of evil. He will prey on the desire for worldwide peace and economic prosperity. But, listen closely to avoid being led astray by someone as evil as the Antichrist. Don't expect him to come with horns and a pitchfork. Judge what he says about Jesus. That will determine if he is truly the Antichrist.
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What Will You Leave Behind?

"...for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many." - Nehemiah 7:2

As you think of the future, I have a question. What do you plan to leave to your heirs? Stocks and bonds? Property? Investment-quality art? As important as planning for the future is, there is one fact that so many fail to recognize. You're creating a legacy that will live beyond your death. Your character will continue to speak for good or evil after your life on earth has ended.

"Unquestionable character" is one of the greatest gifts we can leave our heirs. So many, by concentrating on amassing financial wealth, fail to help build honesty, responsibility, compassion, or love for God and their fellow man into the lives of their kids.

Character begins with your example - your life. It's more "caught" than "taught," but teaching is important, too. You can't leave your heirs a greater gift than this.

Wouldn't you like to know that your life will be remembered for more than money? What a legacy we leave our kids when they reflect on our lives and say, "My Mom and Dad kept God in the center of our family life and it showed. They are the finest people I've ever known."
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Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013
Looking For A Way Out?
"Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it." - Psalm 37:5 NAS

Marriage is losing ground to a grinding economic slowdown that has prompted more couples to live together without tying the knot. The number of U.S. unmarried couples living together jumped 13%, to 7.5 million, in 2010. This is a 25% increase in 10 years.* These are troubling statistics that show a deep-seated fear of commitment and trust in marriage. But it is an understandable result of so many who were scarred by their own parents' divorce, economic times, or a troubled home.

Couples living together want sex, companionship, and love. They'll get sex and companionship, but they'll never experience real love without commitment. For without commitment, there is no real love. Living together, by definition, is always looking for a way out. No commitment. No trust. No real love.

God's way is love and commitment first, and then companionship and sex. And that sex and companionship will be far better because of your trust in Him and in your spouse.

*U.S. Census Bureau 2011, Denver Post, USA Today
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