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TOO BLESSED TO BE STRESSED CHALLENGE 7/1 THRU 12/30, 2013
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One Minute Sermons- March
Topic Started: Mar 1 2013, 04:11 AM (573 Views)
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Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013
We Are Called To Love Our Enemies
"But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him." - Luke 10:33

It was once explained to me that the reason we are commanded to love our neighbors and to love our enemies is that they are often the same people. We can see how this bit of philosophy was developed if we closely examine the story of the Good Samaritan.

Notice that the Samaritan was from an ethnic group that the Jews positively despised. And, while the assaulted man was repeatedly ignored by his own people, the hated Samaritan willingly gave aid to the injured Jewish man. Now, if Jesus were telling the story today, He would replace "Samaritan" with the enemy of whoever He was talking to, whether it involved countries or races of people that hate each other, or just two people. Either way, in reality, everyone is our neighbor.

One reason Christianity is so unique is that we are called to love our enemies. We're called to be fair with them and compassionate toward them and to demonstrate love - even if they hate us. God's Word is clear: You can't claim to love God and not love your neighbor. Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan so we would be clear who our neighbor is and go and do likewise
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Sunday, Mar. 3, 2013
Buy Or Sell?
"He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity." - Ecclesiastes 5:10 NAS

Are you aware that Jesus speaks more about money and possessions than He does about heaven or hell? Not to diminish the importance of heaven or hell, of course, but as long as we are on this earth, He knows that the love of money will always be one of our most difficult strongholds.

Whether you are bullish or bearish; whether the Federal Reserve is on the right track or not; whether you should buy or sell, hold or liquidate, as important as financial advice from Wall Street is, there's a much more reliable place to gain understanding on managing our money, especially in today's economy. That place is the Bible.

The problem is, we don't want to do it God's way. God's way says to give and share and provide for those who have less. His counsel is diametrically opposed to what human reason tells us - to get, to keep, to hoard. But God's way is to spend less than we earn. (What a concept!) The world's way is to build up that debt. Charge it, baby!

Face it. The best financial planner is the Creator of the world. Why not learn what He has to say about managing money and then try it His way? It's always best.
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Monday, Mar. 4, 2013
Does Athiesm Require Faith?
"The fool has said in his heart that there is no God." - Psalm 14:1

One day, someone caught the comedian W.C. Fields reading the Bible and asked what he was doing. His reply was "just looking for loopholes."* There are a lot of people who read with the same intention of disregarding any evidence.

There are only three options to explain our existence, one is to believe in God, another is agnosticism which states their may be a God but I haven't found proof. The last is atheism where one will state they know God does not exist. Atheism is not just a non- belief in God but a willful denial of his existence. Agnosticism is where one admits that they do not know if God exists.

No one is born an atheist, they learn NOT to believe, just as one learns to believe. People choose to become atheists as much as they choose to become Christians, unfortunately they usually disbelieve by default.

Strangely, atheism is a comfortable position for man. It is a reflection of his depraved state being engulfed in sin. The Bible states: "the fool has said in his heart there is no God." Why, because there is so much evidence to the contrary? No, it is more of a hopeful outlook that they will not be accountable to anyone for anything they have done.

No matter how strenuously some may try to deny it, atheism is a belief system. It requires just as much faith (believing) to embrace that God does not exist, even more belief than a Christian would need to believe that He does exist.

I choose to believe God exists, based on evidence AND faith. What do you believe?
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Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2013
Why Devotions Are Important
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." - Hebrews 12:1-3 KJV

Have you ever felt that being a Christian is sometimes like exercising or preparing for an athletic event?

Is the 'daily walk' of the Christian faith similar to an athlete running a race? It sure seems so. The illustration used by Paul of running a race can be found in many other places in Scripture, too. Real, authentic Christianity requires a person of conviction and growing faith. It is like a runner who is training, entering, competing, continuing in, and winning the race set before them. But in our case, the race is not a competition or a performance; rather, it is our faith and life in action.

Take a look at Hebrews 12:1-3; notice the keywords in it like witnesses, weights, perseverance, the race that is set before us, finisher, endured, and weary, to name a few. There is a key training component needed to make this happen continually, and that is the learning of our faith and about our Lord, as we do in our devotions. In this way, we prepare for the practice of our trust and obedience, facing life and exercising faith in the midst of the obstacles and opportunities confronting us every day.
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Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2013
Why Devotions Are Important - Looking Beyond Ourselves
"He must become greater; I must become less." - John 3:30 NIV

There are times when I am doing my devotions that I journal, that is, I keep a diary of what is going on in my life. I sometimes look back on that and gain new insight on what I was going through back then. I have become more adept at interpreting God's leading and plan for me as I further experience life and receive what He has done.

By looking back on what we have been through and seeing the hand of God there, we can have greater comfort and encouragement for what we are going through now or even what lies ahead. As I gain new insight into my personality and the Lord's working into my issues and problems, I realize how small they really are compared to my Lord's holiness and greatness.

Concentrating on Christ and what He has done will lift us up better and more completely than anything else we could ever do. It has taught me to look beyond myself and concentrate on Christ.

We look at God's Word as a mirror to ourselves, into our souls, not to see us, but to see God working in us. When we only see ourselves, we see sin, brokenness, failure, self-seeking inclinations, and wrong attitudes. We must see God's interests and not our own; then our devotions and journals become tools for us to mature in the faith. Christ will become more real in us, as our problems become less.
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Thursday, Mar. 7, 2013
Who Is It That Touched Me?
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." - Philippians 2:10-11

The woman in the crowd touched the hem of Jesus' garment. Jesus turned around, and said, "Who is it that touched Me?" and the woman just fell down to the ground in worship and thankfulness. When the wise men first laid eyes upon Jesus, they fell down and worshiped Him. And do you recall the lepers, others that were sick, and beggars? They all fell down before Jesus and worshiped Him. They all recognized His authority and His sovereignty.

Add to this list the case of Peter, who couldn't catch any fish until Jesus showed up. Then what did he do? He fell down and worshiped Jesus. And my favorite, Thomas, one of the disciples, when hearing from other disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead, vowed, "I'll not believe it until I touch the nail wounds in His hands." And then Jesus appeared and said to Tom, "Come here and put your hand in my wound." An awed Thomas responded, "My Lord and my God!"

That is what the Heavenly Father wants us to do even today. Although we cannot always do this physically, He wants our hearts, minds and souls to fall down and worship Jesus. If you have not yet accepted the Good News of Jesus Christ, I pray that this is the day you will fall down to worship Jesus and commit your life to Him!
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Friday, Mar. 8, 2013
Do You Love Me?
"Jesus repeated the question: 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' "Yes, Lord," Peter said, "you know I love you." 'Then take care of my sheep,' Jesus said ." - John 21:16

These are actually the lyrics from a brand new praise song that was sent to me by someone very close to me. It's short, but profound. Ask yourself the questions it poses, and it will probably help you determine the depth of your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Did you think of Me today,
Did you take the time to pray,
Do you love Me?

Did you share Me with someone,
In your life is there a song,
Do you love Me?

Is there peace in your soul,
Have you given Me control,
My commands did you obey,
Do you love Me?


*Used by permission of D. Tim Holder
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Saturday, Mar. 9, 2013
I Am Part Of Something Bigger Than Myself
"For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body." - 1 Corinthians 12:14-15

Have you ever heard anyone say, "There’s nothing special I can do; I just don’t have any purpose in life?" We live in a culture today that puts so much emphasis on the wrong thing. After all, if you’re not young or beautiful, what is there for you?

I’ve noticed a very interesting thing among teenagers (this often goes for adults, too). Have you noticed, especially when talking about physical features, everyone will tell you what they think is their major physical defect? You look at this gorgeous person, and think, “Wow, what would it be like to look like that?”

I promise you, that person will tell you, "I’m not gorgeous, my nose is too long, or my eyes are too small, or my teeth are crooked, or I walk funny, or I’m too short, or I’m too tall." Our own perspective of ourselves is often very negative. Yet, all of that is totally irrelevant, even though our culture does not view it that way. What does the Bible say about our purpose in life?

God has made you for a unique and special reason. Examine your own likes and dislikes: what you are really good at and what you are not good at, what is really interesting and fun to you and what is not. Do this! It's extremely important!

“Why does it matter,” you ask me? It matters because you were designed by God to be you! You have a unique place and reason for being here that no one else has. You may think, “There are a million other people who are just like me." Not true! Many people may be similar to you, but they are never exactly like you. You are a unique part of the world God has placed you in, and you are needed. No one else is exactly like you. So, without you, something would be missing. Examine just who you are, and you will have taken one gigantic step toward finding your purpose in life.
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Sunday, Mar. 10, 2013
He Gave Up His Rights
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1:14 ESV

Jesus, the Word, 100% God, stepped out of heaven, took on the flesh of humankind, and entered our world. With this huge step of becoming flesh, we see that Jesus willingly set aside His divine rights.

To be clear, Jesus did not suffer from any type of divine identity crisis. He was very clear on who He was and is. Yet, Jesus did not hold onto this equality with God the Father, but made Himself nothing. Literally, He emptied Himself of His divine rights to take on the form of mankind. He took on the limitations of space and time, and in some cases limitations of knowledge and power, so that He could identify with us.

Now, to follow Jesus, to experience God at work in and through us, we must also be willing to give up our "rights." If we are not very, very careful, these "rights" will create an actual barrier between us and Jesus. They will become a weight that hold us back. One of the greatest tragedies of Western Christianity, and especially American Christianity, is that we allow God’s blessings to hold us back from following Him.

If we look through the gospels, we see Jesus challenging people who want to follow Him to give up specific “rights” or “blessings.” He asked them to set aside or leave behind family, occupations, homes, money, safety, security and comfort. His challenge was clear: if they decided to follow Him, it could cost them everything...but they would gain eternity with Him.

Do you accept the challenge?
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Monday, Mar. 11, 2013
The Dynamite Gospel
"...because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake." - 1 Thessalonians 1:5 ESV

The gospel is characterized by power. Whether miraculous power, or power in preaching, it brings the explosive might of heaven to bear on the heart of man. This power, like dynamite, changes that which surrounds it. It crumbles our hardness of heart at the realization of our guiltiness and sin, and ignites in us a love for the One who reconciles us to the Father.

Paul and his fellow missionaries didn’t merely write about what it must be like to be changed by this gospel of power. No, quite the contrary! There is an intense ownership occurring here as he writes it was “because [of] our gospel.” For them, it was not a vague theological term detached from reality and void of meaning. It was their “good news,” their gospel. So, too, can it and should be ours! Not that we are its creators or originators, but we do serve as its mouthpiece when we are changed by the “renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:1-2), and “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). This gospel changed these men to the core, making a former enemy of God and persecutor like Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9) into his friend and herald.

What kind of men and women will we prove to be among those with whom we find ourselves?
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Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2013
Foundation Problems?
"The heart of the prudent gets knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge." - Proverbs 18:15 KJV

We live in a world of information overload and, as a result, we must look to God's Word to find the true values by which we must live. Otherwise, our relationship and other problems will surely overwhelm us.

What we seem to lack is the basic knowledge that is so essential to the well-being of our world.
"We are drowning in information, but starved for knowledge," observes trend-spotter John Naisbitt.* The more information we acquire, the less essential knowledge we seem to absorb—often with dire long-term consequences.

So, what's the answer?

When the foundations are shaking and you wish you could hide, remember that God is still in control. His power is not diminished by any turn of events. Nothing happens without His knowledge and permission. When you feel like running away-- run to God. He will restore justice and goodness on the earth in His good time.

*Megatrends, John Naisbitt
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Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2013
Is There Good and Evil?
“Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” - Romans 12:9

In today's world, many students are taught that all truth is relative, that there are no enduring moral standards, that there is no such thing as good and evil. Even in our criminal system, inability to tell good from evil is considered a sign of criminal insanity. So, are we training our young people to be unable to tell good from evil? How frightening a thought!

Scripture is full of words like "good," "evil," "sin," "righteous," "unrighteous," and "wicked." Many reject such concepts. They use a variety of arguments, but basically I think it comes down to one thing. They don't want to be held accountable by a higher authority. To reject the concept of good and evil is to reject the Bible and to reject God.

So, how can we hate evil, assuming we know what evil is, and still be loving people?

Let me suggest this: Jesus is the perfect picture of God in a man. What He says is evil in His Word, is evil. What He says is good, is good. No one has ever hated evil more than Jesus, and no one has ever been more loving than Jesus. His life, His spirit, and His character show us how to hate evil and, at the same time, how to be a truly loving person. Hate what Jesus hates - sin. And love who Jesus loves – people - all people. This will get you off to a good start in hating evil and being a loving person.
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Thursday, Mar. 14, 2013
Are You Trapped In Darkness?
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light." - Ephesians 5:8

Chile's Atacama Desert is said to be the driest place on earth. But in August 2010, the route to the San Jose mine, where 33 men had been trapped for over a month, was carpeted in a rare, lush spectacle: an explosion of purple flowers - the beauty of hope. It took 17 days after the collapse for rescuers to discover that all of the trapped men were still alive, yet getting them out was another thing altogether. After many unbelievable maneuvers, precise techniques, and God's help, each man was pulled to safety and back into the arms of their families.

In many ways, that story is a parable of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All of us are trapped by sin at birth. We live in spiritual darkness. The only hope we have of escaping an eternity of death, doom and darkness is through Jesus Christ. He came down to earth to save us. The only hope we have is to trust in Him.

But, what if one of the miners had said, "I really appreciate all those folks have gone through to get us out, but I'm a tough, strong, dedicated miner. You guys can go if you want to, but I'm gonna try to make it out on my own." What would you think of the miner who said that? You'd think he was an idiot...and he would have been! Sadly, that's exactly how many folks respond to the Good News of Jesus Christ. They really believe that one way or another, they'll make it to heaven on their own. Yet, there is only one way - through Jesus.

No matter how strong, independent and successful you are, if Christ tells the truth, He is your ONLY hope of salvation. I believe He tells the truth. How about you? Are you trapped in the darkness?
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Friday, Mar. 15, 2013
The Likeness Of God
"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. And let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' - Genesis 1:26

Most of us have heard that we're "made in the image of God." But have you ever stopped to think about what it really means? The Hebrew root of the Latin phrase for image of God - imago Dei - means image, shadow or likeness of God. That being said, if we could take a snapshot of God, what would we see and what would it reveal about humans created in God's image?

Does it mean that God has two arms, two legs and a long flowing beard as depicted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? (Of note, Michelangelo also painted a belly button on God, something that really makes no sense on so many levels.) No, Scripture does not imply a visual duplication of God; instead it refers to the nature of God. Like God, man can think and reason. We can create, appreciate beauty and language. And unlike animals, we have an inner sense of morality and the ability to grasp deep concepts. This gives man the ability to commune with God, and that is the real reason God made us in His image.

In the same passage, God addresses our relationship with the earth. One reason God made us in His image is that we are responsible for caring for all of God's creation. We're to be an intermediary between God and all of His creation. How can we manage it unless we stay close to God; unless we think like God; unless we're able to fulfill the will of God? Part of having a relationship with God is having the right relationship with His creation. Being created in His image is an awesome gift, as well as a sacred responsibility.
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Saturday, Mar. 16, 2013
Something To Remember When You're Young and When You're Old
"...even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you." - Isaiah 46:4

As you get older, your skin wrinkles because it becomes thinner and less elastic. It gets drier, too, as it makes less oil and sweat. Your bones become more visible as you store less fat beneath your skin. Inside the body, your bones and muscle become weaker. Your memory gets worse, and your immune system can't fight disease as easily. Face it, your body wears out as you get older. Now, we know that scientists are trying to find out why this happens by investigating what happens to the body's cells as they age. But, bottom line? Growing old definitely is NOT for the faint of heart!

In Ecclesiastes, King Solomon agreed. He wrote of how the things we take for granted when we're young cause us to lose delight in living when we're old. On top of that, without God life can be meaningless. Ah, but with God, there is wisdom, strength, joy, and the hope that when the body finally gives out, there is life - real life - in heaven with God. It's something to remember when you're young and when you're old.

If you haven't thought about what will happen when you leave this earth, read John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life."(NLT) Don't let another day go by without giving your life to Jesus. You'll never have to wonder where you'll spend eternity!
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Sunday, Mar. 17, 2013
The Proof Of Our Love
"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." - John 15:10

Parents, what is the greatest proof of your children's love for you? Is it when they say they love you? That's great, but it's not real proof. The real proof of their love is when they willingly obey you. Many people miss this truth.

The same holds true when it comes to loving God. Many say they love God, maybe even go to church regularly, but there isn't much evidence of obedience to God's rules in their lives - which, of course, is the real evidence of our love.

Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." The proof of our love is our willingness to obey God and His commands. Doesn't it make you feel great when your child willingly obeys you? It gives you joy because you feel maybe they "got it." Why don't you give God the same joy? Obey Him because it's your desire to do so. Love Him like you want to be loved by your own children.
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Monday, Mar. 18, 2013
Begin With God
"In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch." - Psalm 5:3

There are a lot of people who don't get up and going until about three o'clock in the afternoon. That's when their creative juices start flowing and when they really feel alive. Are you one of those people? Well, I'm not and neither is my wife. Through the years of having early morning commitments, our bodies just naturally wake up early, even though sometimes we wish we could just sleep! As it turns out, for most people, our days begin early.

So, doesn't it make sense to get in touch with the One who created the day - to begin your day by spending a few minutes alone with God each morning? Study God's Word and share with Him, through prayer, your heart and your concerns. It will help get you in the right frame of mind. You'll find your day will start and finish a whole lot better.

Even if you're a night owl, let me suggest that you start your day, whatever time that may be, in the same way. Spend a few minutes alone with God in your "morning" and you'll also find that your life will be enriched and blessed as the day progresses.
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Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2013
Praise, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication
"...with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints," - 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

Praise, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. These are the things God's Word tells us to include in our prayer life. Now wouldn't it be fascinating if God gave us the statistics showing how much prayer time we spend on our own requests versus how much time is spent thanking God, praising God, or confessing our sins? Now that would be an interesting stat! I know that if He did it for my own prayer life I would see those supplications way up there on that list!

God's Word tells us that when we pray, we are to have an attitude of thanksgiving. We want to be thankful to the Lord for the many blessings in our life, for the greatest blessing of all - which is the salvation we have in Jesus Christ and the eternal abundant life that He gives us. We ought to have an attitude of thanksgiving. Because, you see, with an attitude of thanksgiving, you will be more joyful and more content with life. Give praise your Lord for these many blessings and discuss your sins with the One who offers forgiveness.

Strive for this four-fold balance in your prayer life and see how it draws you closer to the Creator of the Universe.
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Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2013
Where to BEGIN Studying The Bible
"Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth." - 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

If you’re new to Bible study, it's hard to know where to begin. In my opinion, it’s best not to begin at the beginning, but in the middle, with the story of Jesus. Oftentimes, I will suggest people start with the book of John. All of the Old Testament points to Jesus and we can’t really understand the Old Testament until we first understand Him.

Now, this can get a little confusing, so read this slowly. Even though Jesus initiated the New Covenant (Testament) when He was observing the Lord’s Supper the night before His crucifixion, the Old Covenant (Testament) all points to Him. It has 39 books; the first five are called the Torah (books of Mosaic Law and the origin of man and Israel. Then the next twelve are called the Historical books, telling about the history of ancient Israel. After that, you come to five books that are called Poetry - books like Job, and Psalms and Proverbs. Then you come to the 17 Prophets of the Old Covenant. When you read the Old Covenant, think B.C. – Before Christ.

But with the New Covenant - think A.C. – After Christ. It introduces the life of Jesus in the four gospels and the beginning of the church in Acts. Then come tons of letters to early churches on what we believe as Christians and how we should live. And it ends with Revelation and the events around Jesus’ second coming and the end of this age.

The Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city – and what a great city! Here’s the key – start with Jesus and when you read it, ask God to speak to you. After all, it is His Word.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about HOW to study the Bible.
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Thursday, Mar. 21, 2013
HOW To Study The Bible
"Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth." - 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

Yesterday, we focused on where to BEGIN studying the Bible. Today, we’ll focus on HOW to study the Bible.

1. Find a modern translation of Scripture. The message is unchanged, but the language is like people talk today.
2. Start with Jesus – read one of the Gospels. Ask God to help you see and know Jesus.
3. Read a few verses a day and reflect – what exactly is God saying to me?
a. Study Scripture in light of Scripture: One verse in light of the chapter
b. The chapter in light of the book
c. The Old Testament in light of the New Testament
4. Seek to join others in Bible study with a knowledgeable teacher.

Why study the Bible? It’s not just for spiritual knowledge. It’s to get to know God and have a closer relationship with Him.

Any other reason is missing the point. Don't wait. Start today.
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Friday, Mar. 22, 2013
Salvation Army Parade
"So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, 'Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord- the King of Israel!'" - John 12:13 NRSV

Palm Sunday will be here in two days, and churches celebrate in different ways. At one church the people meet in a room beneath the sanctuary. When everyone is ready they emerge through a side door to process around the outside of the church. Joining in the procession are people waving palm leaves, others playing musical instruments, including the bagpipes, others shouting and singing, "Hosanna." This year, our church's choir and orchestra are presenting the Easter story through music and drama. However your church decides to celebrate it, Palm Sunday is a day of rejoicing, for the King is coming!

There's a story about a pastor and seminary professor, Dr. Walter Bruggemann, that goes like this: he and the rest of the Palm Sunday procession were outside when a young man living in the apartment house across the street threw up the window and shouted, "What's all that noise? You sound like the Salvation Army!" Dr. Bruggemann looked up at him and said, "Son, we ARE the salvation army!" What better way to sum up the events of the first Palm Sunday than to call it a salvation army parade? Jesus and His ragtag army parade outside the city gates. The time has come. The day of salvation is at hand.

Dear God, help us to trust in Your salvation in Jesus Christ. We want to be part of your ragtag army!
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Saturday, Mar. 23, 2013
What Do We Do With This Messiah?
"The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, 'Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!' When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, 'This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.'" - Matthew 21:6-11

The crowds believed Jesus was the Messiah who had come to establish Israel’s independence from Rome. But they wanted a King Messiah who would be their political hero. In fact, the whole scene replicates a King or General’s triumphant entry into a city. It all seemed so perfect and hopeful.

The only problem was: Jesus wasn’t that kind of Messiah.

The irony may have been lost on the people at the time, the way it is lost on most of us today, but Jesus’ “triumphal entry” was not that of a General or a warrior. No, such men ride stallions. Jesus rode in on a donkey. The donkey revealed Jesus to be an humble peasant on a peace mission, not a military warrior.

But, as we know, Jesus had a way of constantly turning everything upside down! He rode in on a donkey for His triumphal entry and not only established this irony, but lifted up the lowly donkey in the process. (Note that it was a donkey that had carried Jesus and Mary at the before He was born, as they rode into Bethlehem.)

Again Jesus showed us that the very thing which we think has no value, has tremendous value in God’s eyes. Jesus challenged our values and our notions of supremacy in every way, from our political power to the cruel power we dare to exercise over God’s created world and God’s beloved creatures.

So, what are we to do with this kind of Messiah?

We do not want to conquer evil with peace, humility, and non-violence. We would rather resort to violence and power. He comes in peace and humility and rides in on a donkey. That’s why, just a week later, when these would-be followers realized Jesus' goal was one of peace, they stopped shouting “Hosanna” and started shouting “Crucify Him!”

You see, Jesus didn’t want to just liberate us from our temporal enemies, Jesus wanted to liberate us from all of our enemies, from the source of our problems: sin, evil, and death itself! This is the victory that Jesus won!
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Sunday, Mar. 24, 2013
Blessed Is The King Who Comes In The Name Of The Lord!
"And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, 'Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'" - Mark 11:9 ESV

Just imagine what it must have been like to be there as Jesus entered Jerusalem on that day of Passover! The people waved palm branches and cried, “Blessed is the King Who comes in the name of the Lord! Crowds gathered and extolled Him. They rejoiced in His powers of healing, in the miracles He’d performed; His popularity reigned supreme.

But the Pharisees did not like it. “Teacher, reprove Your disciples!” And notice that they didn't call Jesus “King.” They called Him "teacher." To them, Jesus was no greater than any other teacher. Even more, He had become a threat to their "authority."

Is it any different today? As some celebrate the majesty of our King today, are there those who would like to silence our voices of praise and exultation?

Yes. There are.

There are those today who would like to still our voices; they’d like us to go away. There are those who scoff and see Jesus as no greater than any other religious leader. There are even those who rejoice in all the miracles Jesus performed, and later left Him alone to be crucified. Which are we?

Those of us who know Him as Savior and Lord cannot be silenced by a few who would “reprove” us. We stand in allegiance to Him as the empty cross is lifted. We do not run away or cower in the face of difficulty and impending doom. We want the world to know that Jesus Christ is King. And He offers a peace that no other can give. He offers a freedom no other can sustain. He offers a Kingdom, no other can create. Let us praise His holy name!
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Tuesday, Mar. 26, 2013
What Will You Do With Jesus?
"Pilate said to them, 'Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?'" - Matthew 27:22

There was nothing remarkable about His looks. He had attracted a large following but few committed followers. He had no wealth - not even a home of His own. Yet He was the object of an unmitigated hatred from a mob. Standing before him was an itinerant preacher. Over 2,000 years ago, a man named Pilate asked the most important question in his life. Pilate asked, "What shall I do with this man?" As the mob cried for His execution, the man, Jesus Christ, stood silently as Pilate cowardly sentenced Him to death on the cross.

The question Pilate asked is ultimately one all of us have to ask. What shall I do with this man, Jesus?

He loves you, even when you could not care less about Him. He cared enough to pay the penalty for your sin. What will you do with Jesus? Your eternal destiny hangs in the balance by how you respond.
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Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2013
Would Anyone Know You Are A Christian?
"After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body." - John 19:38

In our wildest imaginations, we can't visualize the horror of death by crucifixion. It was the most wretched form of execution man has ever devised. It was such a degrading thing that those crucified could not be buried in a traditional cemetery. Very often their bodies were just cast on the garbage dump outside the city. Since He was to be crucified, Jesus would have to be considered unclean and denied burial in a Jewish cemetery.

But for some reason, a rich man intervened.

Joseph of Arimathea was a very wealthy and powerful Jew. Even though he was a member of the ruling council, he had at some time chosen to become a follower of Christ. But, he was also afraid of what his fellow Jews would think and what it would do to his wealth, prominence, and influence. So, to protect himself, he kept his love for Christ a secret. Yet, there was something in Jesus' death that caused him to go public. In fact, he went so public that he went before Pilate and ask for permission to bury Jesus in a tomb that had been reserved for his family. Now that was a public profession of faith!

Let me ask you a question. In your daily life, are you really one of those secret Christians? Would people at the office know for sure that you're a follower of Christ? Would your family? Would your neighbors?

This Easter season, use Joseph's example to move from being a "secret" follower to a "public" professor of Christ.
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Thursday, Mar. 28, 2013
The Ultimate Soul Food
"I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever;" - John 6:51

Did you know that the ultimate "soul food" is the Bread of Life? Have you tasted this bread? Do you know about it? This food makes you feel satisfied and content, sort of like your favorite meal. Now, don't get me wrong, some of my most satisfying times are spent enjoying good soul food with close friends and family...fried chicken, turnip greens, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, and butter beans. Man, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Okay, back to the devotion.

As good as all that soul food sounds, only the Bread of Life provides lasting satisfaction and contentment. Jesus tells us He is the Bread of Life, the ultimate soul food, because only He provides us with spiritual nourishment that lasts.

During the Passover meal the night before His crucifixion, He broke bread with the disciples. He said the bread symbolized His body and that He would be broken on the cross. Christ wanted all of us to know He is the Bread of Life: the only food that brings contentment and fulfillment to our souls.

I love soul food, especially the ultimate soul food, the Bread of Life--Jesus Christ.
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Friday, Mar. 29, 2013
The Tale of Two Fridays
"Jesus, speaking in third person provided some further prophecy, 'On the third day, he will rise again.'" - Luke 18:33 KJV

Black Friday
Every year, Christmas generates over $400 billion of economic activity, with a large percentage of that being spent the day after Thanksgiving, “Black Friday.” The frenzy continues until by the time Christmas gets here, most of us have lost our sanity and our savings.

Good Friday
Then there is Easter. Easter week often begins on Palm Sunday, and leads up to “Good Friday,” which is the day most people believe Jesus was crucified. Then a few days later, we celebrate Easter, also called Resurrection Sunday, as the day that Jesus rose from the dead. Though Easter week is about the Resurrection of Jesus, the death of Jesus is what makes it all possible.

Interestingly enough, very little money is spent for Easter. Very little decorating is done. Maybe a few lilies are bought and eggs are decorated, but other than that, it shares none of the frantic activity that Christmas does.

Birth Of Jesus
Do you realize that in Scripture, there isn't very much mentioned about the birth of Jesus? Oh sure, Matthew talks about it, and Luke gives it some room, but other than those two Gospels, it’s as if nobody cares about it. No other author mentions the virgin birth. Of course, the details are critical, crucial and necessary to the story of Jesus. Still, the star stops shining. The wise men disappear from the stage.

Empty Tomb
If I could change one thing about the church’s annual calendar, I would do away with the overemphasis on Christmas, and put Easter in its proper place of importance. I think that if the truth of the resurrection of Jesus grabs hold of our minds, it can radically change, challenge, and inspire us in the same way it did for the early believers.

For you see, without Easter, Christmas, even Christ's death on the cross, would lose its meaning. Let's celebrate our risen Lord this week!

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Saturday, Mar. 30, 2013
He Lives Within My Heart
"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!" - Luke 24:5b

What is the one single act that defined Christianity? The virgin birth? The revolutionary philosophies of Jesus Christ? The great miracles - feeding 5,000, water into wine, healing the sick? While all of these acts of Christ certainly set Him above any other person who has ever walked the earth, nothing compares to His death and resurrection from the dead. Through His death, Jesus gave His life to pay the penalty of my sin. Through His resurrection, He conquered sin and death, and gives us that power, as well. And now we celebrate this wonderful moment and the joyous consequences that stemmed from it.

When I contemplate the amazing grace that exploded from His resurrection, I find myself humming, then singing some of the words to the classic hymns, Because He Lives, as well as He Lives!

Because He Lives
God sent His son, they called Him Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

He Lives!
I serve a risen Savior, He's in the world today. I know that He is living, whatever men may say...

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me; He talks with me along life's narrow way. He lives, He lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart.

Happy Resurrection Day tomorrow! If you don't have one, find a good Bible teaching church and join in the celebration of our Risen Lord!
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Sunday, Mar. 31, 2013
Become A Follower Of Christ
"But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." - 1 Corinthians 15:20 NIV

Christ told the truth when He predicted that He would be killed and He would rise again, because...He really did! So, on this Resurrection Sunday, it is a great joy to proclaim the truth of what Jesus said and what Jesus did. What this means is that all mankind is divided into three groups:

1. There are those who believe Jesus told the truth, is the Truth, and really rose from the dead. These are the followers of Christ.

2. There are those who have never heard about all this. The mission of the church is to share this Good News with those who have never heard.

3. And then there are those who refuse to believe. God’s Word is very clear - by refusing to believe, you are choosing to be eternally separated from God.

But, I have good news for you. If you choose to repent and trust Christ, you will realize that He died for you, too! He paid the penalty for your sins. And because He rose from the dead, He offers you the gift of eternal life.

If you haven't already, why don’t you choose to believe on this Resurrection Sunday? What could be a better day than today, on Easter?
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