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Buddy Hacket stated that while he's had several arguments with people along the way, he has never held a grudge. When explaining why, he said, "While you're carrying a grudge, they're out dancing."

While grudge holding might be expected from people of the world, it should never be a characteristic of a faithful child of God. The Bible says, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (Eph. 4:31-32--ESV).

Sometimes, it's hard not to hold a grudge against someone who has wounded us so deeply--especially if that person is a friend and fellow Christian. I think it makes us feel better (at least it's how we sometimes reason) to try to make someone else feel the way we feel--miserable. But the Bible reminds us that behavior like that is unbecoming. Further, it's not practicing one of the basic rules of Christ-likeness--treating others the way we want to be treated (Mt. 7:12).

I like what Stanley Jones said, "A rattlesnake, if cornered, will sometimes become so angry it will bite itself. That is exactly what the harboring of hate and resentment against others is--a biting of oneself. We think that we are harming others in holding these spites and hates, but the deeper harm is to ourselves." 

Let us try our best to love the unloveable and to be at peace with all men to the best of our ability (Rm. 12:18). After all, that's how Jesus looks at us--someone he loves, though so undeserving (Rm. 5:8).

Have a blessed day!


 
 
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"Psychiatrists tell us talking helps solve our problems--it often causes them too." 

One type of talking that never solves problems, but creates them is gossip. I don't know why gossip is so incredibly fascinating, but it is--there's just something about knowing that which no one else may know and feeling as though it's your obligation to share. It's like a child at Christmas time who is so excited for you to open his gift to you that he blurts out what it is before you can tear the wrapping paper away.

In Willard Conchin's book, Sins of the Tongue, he shares what he calls "Bits of Human Wisdom" about gossip. Here are some of them:

"No matter which screw in the head is loose, it is the tongue that rattles."

"No one can keep gossipers from gossiping, but all of us can keep our ears from serving as garbage cans."

"There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly becomes any of us to talk about the rest of us."

The Bible gives us the following warnings with respect to gossip:

"He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends" (Pro. 17:9).

"He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips" (Pro. 20:19).

"Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles" (Pro. 21:23).

"But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak they shall be judged thereof in the day of judgment" (Mt. 12:36).


We are responsible for what we say. Let's be careful with our speech and always be mindful that our words can either encourage or discourage others. Let's solve problems with our speech and not cause problems.

Have a blessed day!

 
 
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In The Wounded Healer, the author shares the following tale from ancient India: 

Four royal brothers decided each to master a special ability. Time went by, and the brothers met to reveal what they had learned.

"I have mastered a science," said the first, "by which I can take but a bone of some creature and create the flesh that goes with it."

"I," said the second, "know how to grow that creature's skin and hair if there is flesh on its bones."

The third said, "I am able to create its limbs if I have flesh, the skin, and the hair."

"And I," concluded the fourth, "know how to give life to that creature if its form is complete."

Thereupon the brothers went into the jungle to find a bone so they could demonstrate their specialities. As fate would have it, the bone they found was a lion's. One added flesh to the bone, the second grew hide and hair, the third completed it with matching limbs, and the fourth gave the lion life. Shaking its mane, the ferocious beast arose and jumped on his creators. He killed them all and vanished contentedly into the jungle.


Do you suppose this could happen to you and me? No, I don't mean that we somehow develop special creative powers. I do believe that we can allow OUR plans to consume us to the point that we fail to remember God, and thusly our dreams consume us, or devour us. 

The Bible says:

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin (Jas. 4:13-17).

It's not wrong to have personal goals and dreams; however, it's sinful to have goals and dreams when we have an attitude of self-sufficiency and leave God out of our plans and lives. Something to think about.

I hope you have a great day!

 
 
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Larson tells the story about a woman who walked into a jewelry store looking for a necklace. “I'd like a gold cross,” she said. The man behind the counter looked over the stock in the display case and said, “Do you want a plain one, or one with a little man on it?” 

Who is Jesus to you? For some, Jesus has been reduced to a little man on a superficial cross. But who is He to you?

To the universe, Jesus was the perfect subcontractor. The Father handed off His design plans for the world in which we live and Jesus fashioned the universe together like only God could do (Col. 1:16). 

To the eternal Father, Jesus was an only son. Can you imagine the pride that must have filled the heart of the Father when He watched His only begotten navigate the first century world as the perfect God-man? Then, you pause and reflect on the pain the Father must have felt as He watched His perfect son die on a cross for undeserving man (2 Cor. 5:21)?

To His sheep, Jesus was the good shepherd. A shepherd cares for the sheep and protects them from enemies. The Bible tells us that Jesus wants us to cast our burdens on Him so He can care for us. That's what a shepherd does (Mt. 11:28-30). It's no wonder that the child misquoted Psalm 23 and said, "The Lord is my shepherd, he's all I want."

To all of us, Jesus was the greatest example of a servant that the world has ever known. Philippians 2:1-8 gives us insight into how Jesus viewed himself. As Jesus reflected on Jesus He saw himself, not as God, but as a servant. 

To every sinner, Jesus was and is the Savior. My sins put Jesus on that old rugged cross (Gal. 1:4). Do you know what kept Him there? It was His love for me, personally (Gal. 2:20).

So I ask again, who is Jesus to you? In your heart, has Jesus been reduced to a little man? Or, can you say, "Jesus is all the world to me, my life, my joy, my all!" 

Have a blessed day! 

 
 
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Do you know what will kill the vibrancy of a local congregation quicker than anything else? It's not what you think. 

Failing to have adequate church programs may be a contributor, but that's not the main thing.

A lack of passion in the pulpit may be a contributor, but that's not the main thing.

Having only a small youth program, or the lack of one entirely may be a contributor, but that's not the main thing.

I believe one of the biggest reasons why some churches go through a decline in mood and eventually numbers, is because of pessimistic and negative church members. Sometimes it exists in the leadership, and at times with the preacher, but more often than not it's within the body of the church itself. 

You've heard things like, "oh, that person will never obey the Gospel." Or, "you'll never get them to do that job." Perhaps it's been said, "we'll never have that many people show up for the event." And you may even hear folks ask the foolish, "why are we doing this, we've never done it this way before?" 

This is nothing short of an attitude problem. It stifles growth, and is the exact opposite of the spirit Christ desires us to have--personally and congregationally. 

I once read that if one crab tried to climb out of a bucket that was full of crabs, then the other crabs would pull him back down. Sometimes people are like that. Some people (though unintentionally) try to keep us in the bucket rather than encouraging us to shine our lights as brightly as Jesus wants us to. 

Here are a couple of Bible passages that I think we'd do well to lay side by side:

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Mt. 5:16); and "Do all things without murmurings and questionings" (Phil. 2:14--ASV).

Church, let's be optimistic about our spiritual family, our Christian life, and our work for Jesus. Let's work together in harmony, building up the body with words of encouragement. 

Have a blessed day!

 
 
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As the two little girls discussed their wealth one said to the other, "I have ten pennies." When she opened her hand to show her friend, her friend noticed that she only had five pennies. So, the little girl told her friend, "Yes, I have five pennies in my hand but my father said he would give me five more tonight. So, I have ten."

This little story gives us insight into the nature of the promises of God. The Bible says, "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us" (2 Cor. 1:20). 

God never made promises that He has not/will not keep. So, when God makes a commitment to us, we can rest assured that He has and will follow through. 

When we sin, we can trust the fact He will forgive us (Acts 2:38).

When we need Him in an hour of despair, we know that He will hear us (Psa. 116:1-8).

When we feel rejected and forgotten, we can rejoice in His blessings (Psa. 68:19).

When faced with the reality of death, we can know that the life beyond will be far greater (Rev. 21).

We can hang our hat on the promises of God!

I hope you have a great day!

 
 
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"I'm gone" were the words spoken yesterday by a man who has been putting off becoming a Christian for years. 

When now, brother Mabry, came forward many were touched by his response to the Lord's invitation on Sunday. It's not often that you watch an older man come to confess the name of Jesus and be immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins and thereby be added to the church of Christ. But that's exactly what we witnessed this past Lord's day.

Though his wife has been a Christian for years and he's known for some time what to do to become a Christian, he kept putting it off. But on Sunday he decided to put it off no longer. During the singing of the invitation song that followed a wonderful sermon presented by one of our preachers, Mr. Mabry turned to his wife and said, "I'm gone," and he was. He swiftly came down the aisle with his wife in pursuit. 

Within minutes, Mr. Mabry confessed that he believed Jesus was the son of God (Mt. 10:32) and he was baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).

For the rest of the day, I don't believe I've seen him as happy as he was on Sunday. Praise God!

Now, I know that it's not Sunday. It's not likely that you'll hear a sermon preached today, or have an invitation song to encourage you to "come forward." However, God's invitation to become a Christian is always offered (Mt. 11:28-30). 

If you've been putting off obedience to the Gospel, don't let the day go without making the decision to become a Christian. 

Have a great day!

 
 
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Abraham Lincoln once said, "I destroy my enemy when I make him my friend." 

Have you taken out your opposition with kindness lately? Or, have you stooped to the level of the one making your life miserable by treating him or her just as they have been treating you? 

E.H. Chapin had it right when he said, "Never does the human soul appear so strong and noble as when it forgoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury."

The Bible tells us, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Mt. 6:14-15).

Forgiveness is one of the more difficult practical elements of Christianity. It's almost natural to want to hold on to hard feelings, and not let go of the hurt that one has caused you. But in this passage, Jesus warns us against such a spirit of malice. He reminds us that if we want to experience forgiveness, we must likewise learn to forgive.

It's not an easy matter, so here's something that might help to put it into perspective:

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him (Rm. 5:7-9).

As difficult as it may be to forgive one who sins against you, and as easy as it may be to hold a grudge, try killing your opposition with kindness. Who knows, your enemy may just become your friend.

Have a great day! 



  

 
 
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When the soldiers were questioned on why they didn't follow the instructions and arrest Jesus, they said, "Never man spake like this man" (Jn. 7:46). Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Mt. 24:35); and "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (Jn. 12:48).

Here's the point, when Jesus speaks, we listen.

This morning, by way of a devotional thought, let's listen to what Jesus has to say about "repentance." It's one of the more challenging commands given by our Lord, but without it, not one of us can be saved (Lk. 13:3). 

So, what is repentance? Here's what it's not: sorrow only; giving up the sin, only; nor is it just starting fresh. While all of these are important and part of the repentance process, none of these define repentance. Repentance is merely a change of mind. Further, it is a turning to God (Acts 26:20) with the resolve to change one's life and make restitution as far as is possible.

Every sinner needs to repent. Therefore, we all have need to repent. The apostle Paul, when the realization hit him about his life, said, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rm. 8:24). Only a heart like this can enjoy the forgiveness of God. For it's only a heart like this that will turn away from sin by turning to God and mending that spiritual relationship (Acts 3:29).

I hope you have a great day!

 
 
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While working on a sermon about the one God of the Bible, I ran across a story about a barber who walked through the slums of the city with his preacher. The barber, after seeing one case of poverty and disease after another said, "see, here's proof that there is no God." "Surely God would not allow drug addiction, alcoholism, and the like. I refuse to believe in God."

As the story goes, the minister did not say a word until they came upon a man with long hair, and a thick beard. The minister said, "and you call yourself a barber. You must not be a good barber, otherwise you would not permit this man to walk around so unkempt." 

Of course the barber was furious and told the minister not to blame him for the man's condition. He said that he could help the man but the man never gave him the opportunity to cut his hair, and shave his face. To which the minister responded, "Then don't blame God for allowing people to continue in sin when He is constantly inviting them to come and be saved."

There's not one individual on the planet whom God does not want to see saved. The Bible says, "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tm. 2:4).

God does everything He can to save us, but it's up to us to act upon the precious grace He extends by having an obedient faith (Tit. 2:11; Eph. 2:8). 

I hope you have a great day!