Monthly Archives: November 2011

We ought to live holy and godly lives

A tiny but dignified old lady was among a group looking at an art exhibition in a newly opened gallery.  Suddenly one contemporary painting caught her eye.

“What on earth,” she inquired of the artist standing nearby, “is that?”

He smiled condescendingly. “That, my dear lady, is supposed to be a mother and her child.”

“Well, then,” snapped the little old lady, “why isn’t it?”

I’ve seen some of that “modern art”, so I can relate.  But it makes me stop and wonder:  Does the same thing ever happen spiritually in my life?  I’m “supposed” to be a Christian, a child of God, a person whose life dedicated to serving God.

Peter reminds me:  “You ought to live holy and godly lives.” (2 Peter 3:11)

But is there anyone who looks at my life and says, “I know what he’s supposed to be, so why isn’t he?”

“Father, please forgive me for those times I have let you down, those times I have not set an example of holiness that You intend for me to.  Please strengthen me in my desire to live in such a way that others around me will have no doubt that You come first in my life.”

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

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You're dressed like a prostitute!

In his book about forgiveness, Brazilian author Hernandes Dias Lopes tells about a bride who made detailed preparations for her honeymoon. On that special night, she presented herself to her husband, dressed all in silk.

Instead of the endearing terms and gesture of tenderness she expected, he said, “You’re dressed like a prostitute!”

For 20 years that wife carried the wound of those words. She never felt pleasure in her relationship with her husband. Her bitterness led her into adultery.

The lack of forgiveness produces resentment and bitterness. In the fertile ground of forgiveness, love grows.

“The one who forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends” (Proverbs 17:9 NET).

Besides indicating, by its inclusion, the difficulty of forgiveness, the Lord’s prayer shows the interdependence of our forgiveness and God’s.

“and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Luke’s rendering makes it clear that debts refer to sins (Luke 11:4).

The more we understand the enormity of God’s forgiveness, the easier we will be able to forgive.

And God’s continuing forgiveness of his people depends upon their imitation of his disposition to forgive.

The love of God explodes any attempt to limit or extend forgiveness on a human basis (Matthew 18:21- 22). While Peter thought seven pardons was a merciful and gracious number, Jesus shows us that the forgiving heart stops counting altogether.

Forgiveness trumps health (Matthew 9:2). Extended to others, it must come “from the heart” (Matthew 18:35).

Forgiveness is the key to restoring and cultivating relationships. The experience of God’s salvation comes “through the forgiveness of … sins” (Luke 1:77). Redemption is summed up as the forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). This is true in our relationship to God, and to one another.

Failure to forgive, then, destroys relationships. Only when we refuse to hold others’ failings against them will we be able to build lasting and intimate relationships in the home, in the church and in the world.

Because honeymoons end, sometimes, before they begin.

–J. Randal Matheny @ http://www.forthright.net

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A sermon on entertaining angels http://ping.fm/9t7eN

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Is Jesus showing up in dental x-rays?

There has been a rash of “sightings” lately with which unbelievers have been having a field day.  I refer to “Jesus sightings” people are claiming in such things as clouds, Cheetos, dental X-rays, cooking utensils, windows, walls, and trees. Wikipedia even has an entry for it (“Perceptions of religious imagery in natural phenomena”). People vehemently defend the idea that these are intentional, divinely sent images. Meanwhile, secular and agnostic witnesses to such claims gather up baby and bathwater together, using such superstitiousness to show how deluded those in Christendom really are. Yet, while responding to superstition in religion would be a fitting use of time, another thing comes to mind when hearing these sad stories.  It is a reminder that people are looking for Jesus in all the wrong places.

They want some heavenly sign, some overwhelming feeling, some sensory sensation, and some sort of religious fireworks to create or validate their faith.  While God has embedded plenty of these in the marvels of nature and creation, through the product of answered prayer that defies logic or explanation, and by the amazing process of transformation that occurs when people follow Christ, He calls on us to seek for Him in a much less electrifying and cataclysmic place.

When we pick up God’s Word and regularly, intently read, meditate, and study (cf. Psalm 1) it, we see Jesus come alive in powerful, sustaining ways!  When we walk with the Lord each day, the resulting relationship built on His character and our trust in Him is powerful!  When we actively serve Him and others and put into practice what He teaches us through the Bible, we see Jesus in a vivid way.  Daily Christian living, the longer we practice it, brings Jesus into unmistakable, clear focus.  Maybe that is what these “seers” truly desire, and what they need is our help to truly find Him.  Let us take that as a challenge and help people really “see Jesus” (cf. John 12:21; Heb. 2:9).

Neal Pollard

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Is there a *death angel* http://ping.fm/uXkEX

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A drop of Pope John II's blood

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, presented a drop of the late Pope John II’s blood to the St. Mary Roman Catholic Church in Greeley, Colorado, last month.  The Associated Press reported that this is a highly-prized relic for the church, especially in light of rumors that the Vatican will soon name the late pontiff a “saint.”  Father Pawel Zborowski, of the Greeley church, said that Dziwisz “presented the drop of blood on a cloth encased in a decorated gold cross last month in Poland” (via Colorado Springs Gazette online).

The discerning Bible student will find much in the above paragraph to deconstruct, but focus for a moment on the value some have attached to the blood of a man venerated by a sizable percentage of people around the globe.  They carefully encase it, preserve it, and desire to display it.  They call it a “relic” (i.e., a part of a deceased holy person’s body or belongings kept as an object of reverence). It is a rarity to be prized and treasured.

My purpose is not to debate the good and bad qualities of John Paul II.  He will stand before “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15), the same as you and me.  It is amazing, though, that much ado is made over inefficacious, ordinary blood, while the vast majority reject the only blood that can save.  His blood redeems (Eph. 1:7), washes away sins (Rev. 1:5-6), acquits (Rom. 5:9), makes holy (Heb. 10:29), brings near (Eph. 2:13), cleanses (1 Jn. 1:7), cancels our sin debt (Mt. 26:28), clears our conscience (Heb. 9:14), and purchased the church (Ac. 20:28).  I cannot literally contact that blood.  Jesus died 2,000 years ago, 8,000 miles from here.  In four different ways, God ties the blood of Christ to baptism (see John 19:34 + Romans 6:3; Matthew 26:28 + Acts 2:38; Revelation 1:5 + Acts 22:16; Hebrews 13:12 + Ephesians 5:25-27).  Christ’s is the only blood that matters!

–Neal Pollard

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The *chained angels* http://ping.fm/ii9ln

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The cross

A young Christian rationalizes his cursing, expressing his “need” to fit in with his peers.  Someone habitually falls asleep during Bible study or worship.  A Christian woman tends to talk bad to her friend about their mutual companion.  A middle-aged couple forms the habit of missing evening assemblies to be with friends or pursue others interests.  Several Christians silently fret over their inability to focus while partaking of the Lord’s Supper.  Some of the brethren seem indifferent to the work of the church.  What is happening with these precious children of God?

Several scenarios have been portrayed, but there is in them but a single issue.  Why do people, even Christians, slip away from the Lord?  The first several words of George Bennard’s famous hymn are, “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame.”  So, what does one do when it seems that Christ died on a hill too far away?

The most dangerous thing that can happen to anyone is for the cross of Christ to lose its meaning.  It CAN lose its meaning for people.  Paul said, “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect” (1 Cor. 1:17).

Does the cross have much meaning for the Christian’s friends and colleagues whose words and actions assault that for which the cross stands?  Willful sin is against the cross (cf. Heb. 6:4-6).  People hurt Christ all over again because the cross means, if their actions accurately reflect their hearts, little more to them than does a fairy tale or ancient history.  Because of a desire to please the world, the Christian can develop such an attitude toward the cross.  In this moral quandary, he can choose to be close to the enemies of the cross instead of the One who died there.  But, when one chooses the world over Christ, HE becomes God’s enemy, too (cf. Ecc. 8:11; Js. 4:4).

Perhaps a few brief facts will help children of God, especially when the hill far away seems too far away.

REMEMBER THAT THE CROSS IS REAL.  Paul taught this without equivocation (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-4).  Contemporaries of the cross attest to its historicity.  Atheists and skeptics only have blind eyes for the plain facts because they know that acceptance of them means they must obey the doctrine of Christ (cf. Rom. 6:17).  But the fact, according to Paul, are simple; namely, Christ really died, He was buried, and He arose!  What the Bible teaches that Christ did for humanity as a whole and the individual in particular is true!  The cross is real!

REMEMBER THAT THE CROSS IS REALLY IMPORTANT!

–Christ died for everyone’s sins on the cross (Rom. 8:8).  He died for the seemingly insignificant, seemingly minor sins.  He also died for the big, ugly, embarrassing, shameful sins!

–Christ died to bring man back to God on the cross (Rom. 8:34).  Because of his sins, man was rejected by God.  God wanted nothing to do with any vile person (note: Rom. 3:23).  But, because of Christ, anyone can come back to God who obeys Him.

–Christ died to be the ruler of the human heart on the cross (Rom. 14:19; Gal. 2:20).

–Christ died to show the individual how much He loves him on the cross (2 Cor. 5:14-15; John 14:23).

–Christ died to open the door to heaven, shut by the separating power of sin, on the cross (1 Thes. 4:14; Isa. 59:1-2).  Thus, in its importance the cross exceeds all else!

REMEMBER THAT THE CROSS IS REALLY SPECIAL.  Only Christ could have hung there.  No one else was qualified.  Only the blood of Christ was right in God’s sight for cleansing man from his ugly sins.  Only His love, as shown by the cross, is strong enough to bring one’s love of this world.

REMEMBER THAT THE CROSS WAS REALLY NECESSARY.  Christ had to die to satisfy God’s perfect justice.  Though all sin, no sinner, of himself, has anything to offer God to satisfy His just requirements.  Everyone needs what Christ gave on that hill far away (cf. Eph. 2:8-9).  There’s no good news to obey without the cross (cf. Rom. 1:16; 5:5-9).  If no cross, then no hope, no joy and no heaven!!

What can we do when the cross seems so distant from us in our spiritual lives?  Understanding the reality, the importance, the uniqueness and the necessity thereof, we will be prompted to renew our zeal and dedication to the suffering servant who died there for us (Heb. 5:8-9).  Matchless love led God to Calvary.  It is love that leads us back to Calvary!

–Neal Pollard

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Where did the devil come from? http://ping.fm/MwXJd

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Displaying the Bible is not enough!

For many years the Bible has been the best selling book, not only in America, but in every country where God’s word is allowed to have free run. Non-profit organizations such as the American Bible Society have devoted untold man hours, and millions of dollars to see to it that the Bible is made available to anyone and everyone who desires to feed on the Book of books. The fact is, the Bible is the most widely printed, the most sought after, and the most influential book the world has ever had the blessed privilege of reading. The Bible is, without doubt, the greatest book ever written.

Consisting of 66 books, it stands as a monumental representation of heaven’s love for mankind. From the moment that God’s word has gone forth to man, Satan has scrutinized, criticized, de-emphasized and sought to minimize the Holy word. Critics have assailed its “contradictions” and “inconsistencies.” But the honest seeker knows that all such attempts to find fault with Scripture are mere subterfuge, and a whistling in the wind. The Bible has survived the onslaught of critics, and the more scrutiny and examination the Bible receives, the more it shines. It has withstood the hammers of infidelity, and weathered the howling winds of higher criticism. While history books become outdated, and science books re-edited, the Bible remains as fresh today as when it was written and needs no addition, subtraction, or rewriting. So long as men hunger and thirst after righteousness, the Bible will find a place in their hearts.

Have you ever thought of the amazing availability of Scripture in our modern age? We have ready access to God’s word, in print, and on the internet. Software is available for those who prefer studying at the keyboard of a computer that provides dozens of translations, dictionaries, commentaries, maps, illustrations, and study helps. I have on my personal laptop four Bible software programs, two of which are absolutely free. At the click of a button I can look up words, search the meaning of the original Hebrew and Greek words, consult the wisdom of brethren who blazed the trail in our country in order to restore the church of the New Testament and provide generations to follow a sound and solid footing in the word, and scour the internet for literally thousands of websites and blogs by faithful brethren. What an amazing age we live in! And yet, sadly, far too many saints still neglect their sacred responsibility and privilege of studying the word. In a time when our world needs a strong church to counteract the onslaught of the devil, it seems that we are the weakest we have been in decades; all because of negligence and apathy on the part of members of the Lord’s body. Some years ago I came across the following poem that addresses the problem of which I speak:

“UNREAD”
by Cleah Boaz

I am a Bible proudly displayed
for all the world to see.
With my leather cover and gilded pages
I am open at Psalm 23.

But no one ever picks me up
and lovingly turns a page,
And the place that is open at Psalm 23
is growing brittle with age.

I am a Bible proudly displayed
On a beautifully carved teak stand.
But no one ever reads the words
that were penned by an inspired hand.

My owner thinks my presence
is his ticket to Paradise,
But he has never consulted me
or heeded my advice.

I am a Bible proudly displayed
open but never read.

My owner’s soul will starve to death
for lack of its daily bread.

–by Tom Wacaster

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