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Contributed By:
Manuel Amparo
 
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A grandfather found his grandson, jumping up and down in his playpen, crying at the top of his voice. When Johnnie saw his grandfather, he reached up his little chubby hands and said, “Out, Gramp, out.”

It was only natural for Grandfather to reach down to lift the little fellow out of his predicament; but as he did, the mother of the child stepped up and said, “No, Johnnie, you are being punished, so you must stay in.”

The grandfather was at a loss to know what to do. The child’s tears and chubby hands reached deep into his heart, but the mother’s firmness in correcting her son for misbehavior must not be lightly taken. Here was a problem of love versus law, but love found a way. The grandfather could not take the youngster out of the playpen, so he crawled in with him.

God did not spare Paul and Silas the suffering and imprisonment, but He did come down into the prison with them.

God did not keep the three Hebrew children out of the fiery furnace, but He went into the furnace with them.

God will not always deliver us from trouble and heartache, but He has promised grace for every situation of life.—By Fred W. Parsons, These Times, March 1969.



 
Contributed By:
Doug Lyon
 
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Don’t divorce your unsaved husband or wife. Why? Paul gives this reason: The believer may have a positive, spiritual influence on their unbelieving mate. The unbeliever may get saved due to the believing spouse’s example and lifestyle. 1 Corinthians 7:14: “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” I think this is what Peter had in mind as well when he wrote these instructions in 1 Peter 3: “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

I think a perfect illustration of this is in the life of my in-laws—Harold and Dorothy Wills. When they got married, mom was a believer and dad was an unbeliever. And dad was content to stay married to mom so they never even considered divorce. Now, Dorothy was careful not to nag Harold with the gospel. She simply prayed for him, answered his questions about the Lord when he asked, and endeavored to live the Christian life in front of him. Finally, in 1987, after 48 years of marriage, at the age of 75, Harold Wills accepted the Lord as his Savior. And I’m convinced that my father-in-law is in heaven today because of the patient, faithful witness of his wife, Dorothy.

So let me encourage you. If you are married to an unbeliever and he or she is content to remain married to you, then don’t divorce. Share the gospel with your unsaved spouses. But don’t nag them with it. Rather, pray for them. And live an exemplary Christian life in front of them. Who knows? Maybe your example will eventually lead them to Christ.

 
Contributed By:
Bobby Scobey
 
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A law on drunken driving in Louisiana is now one of the toughest in the nation. There is a mandatory prison sentence for anyone convicted of driving while intoxicated. Getting it passed was a major victory for various groups against drunk driving. They could not have gotten it passed it if were not for the help of one particular state legislator who sponsored the bill.

Not long after the new law took effect the first person to be arrested for DUI was brought before the judge and found guilty. He was sentenced to a prison term. Who was he? The same legislator who sponsored the bill! Jesus said, “For the way you judge, you will be judged, and by your standard of measure it shall be measured to you.”

 
Contributed By:
Martin Dale
 
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Story: At a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity.

Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God took human form in Jesus. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.”

Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.

Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, arm full of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what’s all this rumpus about?”

Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We’re debating what’s unique about Christianity.”

“Oh, that’s easy,” answered Lewis. “It’s grace.”

The room fell silent.

Lewis continued that Christianity uniquely claims God’s love comes free of charge, no strings attached. No other religion makes that claim.

After a moment someone commented that Lewis had a point, Buddhists, for example, follow an eight-fold path to enlightenment. It’s not a free ride.

Hindus believe in karma, that your actions continually affect the way the world will treat you; that there is nothing that comes to you not set in motion by your actions.

Someone else observed the Jewish code of the law implies God has requ...

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Contributed By:
Davon Huss
 
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RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT WE OVERHEAR

Matt Proctor in a recent Christian Standard said, "My wife, Katie, and I have 6 children- ages 16, 14, 11, 9, 7, and 3. We're not a family; were a small town!

As sheriff of this community, I (with my deputy, Katie) enforce certain rules, one of which we call "double trouble." The double trouble rule is this: If you hear a parent give a clear command to your sibling and then you proceed to disobey this command yourself, you will get in twice as much trouble." This is to short circuit the kid strategy of protesting, "But you told Carl not to jump off the roof. You didn't tell me!" Even when my kids are not directly addressed, they are still held responsible for what they overhear.

It's something similar with OT Law. As NT believers, the Law is not directly addressed to us, but we are still responsible for what we overhear. God left those Scriptures in there so we could overhear his heart. When we read OT Law, we are not responsible to obey the specific commands, but we are responsible for understanding the will of the God who gave those commands--the God we Christians love and follow.

For example, when a man slept with his father's wife in the Corinthians church, Paul did not demand that the law's penalty for incest be applied, but he did demand that the man be disciplined by the church until he repented. So while the letter of the law is not followed, the will of the Lawgiver himself most certainly is. One scholar argues that, without this OT law, Paul would "not have been able to define this activity as sinful."

The Law is a window into the heart of God.

 
Contributed By:
Jeff Strite
 
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WHY DID JESUS NEED TO BE BAPTIZED?

So why would Jesus need to be baptized by John?
Well... Jesus' baptism by John was the beginning of Jesus' ministry

Mark 1:1 starts out: "The BEGINNING of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" and then Mark starts telling us about Jesus' baptism by John.

In Luke 3:23 we're told of Jesus' baptism by John and then we read: "Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he BEGAN HIS MINISTRY..."

Obviously, for some reason, Jesus' ministry began with His baptism.

Now, at this point in Jewish history, water baptism served one of 3 purposes.
1st, there was the Baptism Of Repentance.
This was what John the Baptist's was preaching.
But of course Jesus didn't need to repent because He hadn't sinned.

The 2nd kind of baptism was for people who desired to convert to Judaism.
It was a Baptism Of Conversion.
If you were a Gentile who wanted to convert to Judaism, they baptized you in water.

ILLUS: Jamieson, Fausset and Brown explained that: "The Jews were accustomed to say of a heathen proselyte, on his public admission into the Jewish faith BY BAPTISM, that he was a new-born child."

So, baptism was used when someone wanted to convert to Judaism. But Jesus had no need to convert to Judaism. He already was one. He'd been born a Jew.

So baptism in those days could be for repentance or conversion... and Jesus did not need to be baptized for those reasons. So, for what OTHER reason would a person be baptized in water back then???

Well, the only other people who experienced baptism - in the Jewish faith in that day were priests. The Law dictated that especially the High Priest was to "washed with water." And the Temple had pools set aside for just that purpose.

In Leviticus 8:6 we're told that - by the instruction of God -- "Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water."
Then, later, during that ceremony Moses "poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron's head and anointed him to consecrate him." Leviticus 8:12

This act INITIATED Aaron's ministry as High Priest. When Aaron and his sons were washed with water and anointed with oil, they BEGAN their priesthood and were empowered to make sacrifices and to handle holy things as God's representatives.
At that point (their baptism) God put His mark of approval on the ministry of Aaron and his sons.

The Bible tells us that Jesus' ministry began with His baptism by John.
After His baptism, the Father anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit as it descended on Him in form of a dove. And the Father put His mark of approval on Jesus by loudly declaring:
"This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17

This was the beginning of Jesus' ministry as our High Priest.
Did you realize Jesus was our High Priest?
Indeed He is!
Hebrews 4:14: "...we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God..."

From the day of His baptism by John at the Jordan until His death on the Cross, Jesus (as our High Priest) prepared the ultimate sacrifice for our sins... His own body.

 
Contributed By:
Brian Harvison
 
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I WILL PAY THE FINE

Let's say you where caught speeding down this highway in front of the church. You were doing 100 mph, obviously slightly out of the acceptable speeding window. You go to court and just as the judge is about to throw the book at you, someone steps forward and says, "I will pay the fine. I will take the punishment." And you get off, without paying the fine, without any punishment at all. You have been justified, Made right in the eyes of the law. It doesn't change the fact that you were speeding, but the court sees you as innocent. That is what Christ did for us.

 
Contributed By:
Rodney Buchanan
 
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Bill Hybels tells about an interesting experience after a baptism service in their church. He writes: “I bumped into a woman in the stairwell who was crying. I thought this was a little odd, since the service was so joyful. I asked her if she was all right. She said, ‘No, I’m struggling.’ She said, ‘My mom was baptized today. I prayed for her every day for almost 20 years. The reason I’m crying is because I came this close to giving up on her. At the 5-year mark I said, “Who needs this? God isn’t listening.” At the 10-year mark I said, “Why am I wasting my breath?” At the 15-year mark I said, “This is absurd.” At the 19-year mark I said, “I’m just a fool.” But I just kept trying, kept praying. Even with weak faith I kept praying. Then she gave here life to Christ, and she was baptized today. I will never doubt the power of prayer again.”

Sometimes when we pray and pray we feel like we are experiencing the law of diminished returns — so we stop praying. We correspon...

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Contributed By:
Ronnie Knight
 
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In fact God has created us in such a way so that our very existence hinges upon these two concepts. The Bible bears this out. The heart of God and His Word is centered on relationships and love. The fundamental Law of God is hinged on these two concepts. Jesus expresses this clearly in Matthew 22 as he is questioned by the lawyer asking Him to share what He understood as the greatest commandment. In answering this question Jesus reveals to us that the Divine plan and purpose of God for our lives rests in the fundamental elements of relationships and love. The lawyer asked for the greatest commandment and Jesus gave him the reason for our existence.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to love God with everything you are, but He didn’t stop there. He went on to express that the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. While these two statements are profound enough, Jesus, with His next statement revealed the key to our whole existence. Hear what He said, "on these two commandments hang ALL of the Law and the Prophets." The phrase Law and Prophets is a euphemism for the entirety of God’s Word in their time. We understand that to be the Old Testament. In essence Jesus was saying that the very heart of all of God’s teaching rest upon these two commandments.

In order to see the significance of this even more we must think just a moment about the underlying source of these commandments which is the Ten Commandments. In these two statements Jesus summed up the Ten Commandments. When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses we know from His Word that He wrote them on two stone tablets. On one tablet are four laws that deal with out relationship with God. On the other tablet are six laws that deal with our relationship with each other. At the heart of each of these relationships is one key world -- Love. Therefore, the very essence of God’s purpose for our existence is to enter into a personal relationship of true authentic love with Him and to share that Godly love as we develop meaningful relationships with each other. So, my friends what we are discussing today is at the very heart of our reason for existing. Today we are talking about aspect of love in relationships.

 
Contributed By:
Steve Malone
 
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On Sept 16, 1620 2 ships set sail from Plymouth Englnad, The Speedwell and the Mayflower. The Speedwell encountered much difficulty as they began their journey springing many leaks in the ship. So when the 2 ships went to Port in Plymouth England, the Speedwell decided to go no further and 42 passengers from the Speedwell joined the 60 passengers and 30 crew members aboard the Mayflower..

Of the 102 passengers on board the Mayflower the majority were devout Christians. They were coming to America to shake lose from the bonds of the church of England so they could worship God as they believed scriptures taught.

And with great excitement and expectations that set sail for a new land... It wasn’t long before the trip became difficult for several reasons, as noted by William Bradford an historian on the Mayflower, who would later became Governor of the colony for 33 years.. Many of the passengers became sea sick as huge waves would crash over the deck of the ship... The nights were cold, damp and dark... Remember there was no indoor plumbing or electricity. And to make matters worse one of the crew, a very large man would constantly curse and abuse those who were sick... saying he was going to throw them overboard and steal all of their possessions... Bradford records, "BUT IT PLEASED GOD BEFORE THEY CAME HALF SEAS OVER, TO SMITE THE YOUNG MAN WITH A GRIEVOUS DISEASE OF WHICH HE DIED IN A DESPERATE MANNER.. AND SO HE HIMSELF WAS THE FIRST THROWN OVERBOARD. THUS HIS CURSES LIGHT OWN HIS WON HEAD, AND IT WAS AN ASTONISHMENT TO ALL HIS FELLOWS FOR THEY NOTED IT TO BE THE JUST HAND OF GOD UPON HIM.."

But their problems were far from over yet, they encountered many fierce storms which shook the ship with tremendous force. So fierce that many times they could not even keep the sail out and the force of the wind -- eventually cracked and bowed the main beams when they had just went over the half way point across the Atlantic. And although the passengers and crew wanted to turn back, Christopher Jones, the ships Master, assured all the vessel was "strong and firm under water." He ordered the beam to be secured. It was hoisted into place by a great iron screw that, fortunately, the Pilgrims brought out of Holland. AND Upon raising the beam, they "committed themselves to the will of God and resolved to proceed." These 100 people; cold, wet -- on wooden ship in the middle of the ocean -- put their hope, trust and lives into the hands of God. The battered ship finally came within sight of Cape Cod on November 19, 1620. Two had died at sea and two had given birth. The Pilgrims scanned the shoreline just to the west of them and described it as, "a goodly land wooded to the brink of the sea," William Bradford writes, "AFTER LONG BEATINGS AT SEA THEY FELL WITH THAT LAND WHICH IS CALLED CAPE COD; AND THEY WERE NOT A LITTLE JOYFUL..."

Before going ashore they decided to write a document know as the Mayflower Compact.
At the heart of the compact lay an undisputed conviction that God must be at the center of all law and order and the law without a moral base is really no law at all.

The day the Pilgrims signed the May Flower Compact, according to William Bradford, "they came to anchor in the Bay, which was a good harbor...and they blessed the God of Heaven, who brought them over the fast and furious ocean... and a sea of trouble. And they read the following from the Geneva Bible (the Bible the Pilgrims used) "LET THEM, THEREFORE PRAISE THE LORD, BECAUSE HE IS GOOD AND HIS MERCIES ENDURE FOREVER."

This coming thursday we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day... Many will be busy cooking turkeys, making stuffing, baking pumpkin pies.... and watching football games. And that is fun stuff -- it is important to get together with loved ones... But that is not what thanksgiving is really about -- it’s not about food and fun... it is about giving thanks to the Lord God Almighty.

We usually picture the first thanksgiving in America, as the time when the Pilgrims and the Indians got together for a great feast (though I really don’t know how they could of eaten pumpkin pie without cool whip). But I tend to look at that time when on the sea battered Mayflower anchored in the bay at Cape Cod, a group of weary and worn men and women were on their knees praising their God in heaven for bringing them safely through the treacherous sea to this new land, as the real first thanksgiving.

 
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