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Contributed By:
Daniel Owens
 
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Anyone see ďOprahĒ this past week?...I believe it was on Friday, Feb. 8.
The test tube babies of the 80ís have come of age...and Oprah had some of those young people on her show.

These children had no identity apart from a mother and were in a constant search for, not only there father, but for other siblings. They admitted with tears that there is a huge void inside that needs so desperately to be satisfied and they are willing to use all their energies to seek the truth.
These young people were consumed with the hope of learning their true identities.

One teenage child only knew he was from test tube #46.

One mother, when asked by her child Ėwhere their father was, explained that another man, who already had a family, was loving enough to donate and that made the child a ďlove child.Ē

We live in a land and among a people who have no idea...Not only who they are BUT where they came from
How in the world can we expect them to know where they are going?
Most are using all their energies to learn their true identities.

Well, there is good news for them, and for you...
for when someone introduces them to Jesus Christ, or for that fact...when you introduce anyone to Jesus Christ, he provides that person with their true identity, their true purpose in life.

 
Contributed By:
Warren Curry
 
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Have you ever been to a church where you didnít feel welcome? You went in and looked around the foyer area and no one greets you. You proceed through the doors into the sanctuary and find yourself a seat in the back row and begin to prepare yourself for the worship time. People come filing in and many are talking with one another, because it seems they all know each other, but still, no one offers a hand to be shaken or says hello. As you look around, you even notice some making eye contact with you and when they notice you seeing them, they turn away quickly or pretend they are looking beyond you at something else. The service goes by and when it is done, you linger around for a while in the foyer area again, reading some of the bulletin boards to see what things the church is involved with and still no one says boo to you. Finally you leave, feeling a bit slighted, and tell yourself you will never visit this church again.

 
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Sermon Central Staff
 
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CAPTURE AND CONTROL

Craig Larson talks about being at a lunch party on a warm, Chicago day in early September with a dozen of his fellow workers. The windows were left open, and soon a bee found its way in. After buzzing around for a while, it landed on some food on the table. Then someone took an empty bottle of sparkling grape juice and put the mouth of the bottle near the bee. Without a moment's hesitation, the bee flew to the mouth of the bottle and climbed inside the narrow opening. Immediately, Larson's colleague put the cap on the bottle and screwed it shut. The bee spent the rest of the party drinking at the bottom of the bottle, and as far as anyone knew, the bee was never released.

The people at that table were not concerned about the bee. Their purpose was not to make sure it enjoyed itself and had a good time. No! Their only concern was capture and control.

That's the way it is with Satan. He is not concerned about us. His purpose is not to make sure we have a good time. No! He despises us, and his only concern is capture and control.

(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Pitfalls of Leadership, 7/29/2010)

 
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PRAYER WORKS
George Muller was born in Prussia on September 27, 1805. His father was a collector of taxes and George seemed to inherit his fatherís ability with figures.

When Muller was converted to Christ he was impressed by the many recurring statements of Jesus for us "to ask." At this point in Mullerís life he and his wife launched into a daring experiment. First, they gave away all of their household goods. The next step was even more daring, he refused all regular salary from the small mission he had been serving. He then set out to establish an orphan home to care for the homeless children of England.

The first home was dedicated in a rented building on April 21, 1836. Within a matter of days, 43 orphans were being cared for. Muller and his co-workers decided their experiment would be set up with the following guidelines:
1- No funds would ever be solicited.
2- No debts were ever to be incurred.
3- No money contributed for a specific purpose would ever be used for any other purpose.
4- All accounts would be audited annually.
5- No ego-pandering by the publication of donorís names.
6- No "names" of prominent people would be sought for the board or to advertise the institution.
7- The success of the orphanage would be measured not by the numbers served or by the amount of money taken in, but by Godís blessing on the work, which Muller expected to be in direct proportion to the time spent in prayer.

When the first building was constructed, Muller and his friends remained true to their convictions. The public was amazed when a second building was opened six months after the first. They kept concentrating on prayer and eventually there were five new buildings, 110 workers, and 2,050 orphans being...

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GUARD DUTY

When I was in the U.S. Army, I remember we had to pull guard duty many times. The purpose of guard duty was to ensure that other soldiers, equipment, or areas were protected from the enemy. I can recall that in basic training, or boot camp, we had to memorize three General Orders and the first one was, "I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved."

When we were properly relieved, there was a password that was spoken between the person on guard duty and the one that was relieving them. If the improper password was given, you were not properly relieved. The safety of all that was being guarded depended upon you, the person on guard duty. If something went wrong or the enemy was able to get access into that which you were responsible for guarding, then you were held accountable and punishment was inevitable.

(From a sermon by Melvin Maughmer, Jr., Guard Duty, 5/25/2011)

 
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Davon Huss
 
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HUMILITY: THE BALLOON GAME

Robert Roberts writes about a fourth grade class in which the teacher introduced a game called "balloon stomp." A balloon was tied to every child's leg, and the object of the game was to pop everyone else's balloon while protecting one's own. The last person with an intact balloon would win.

The fourth graders in Roberts' story entered into the spirit of the game with vigor. Balloons were relentlessly targeted and destroyed. A few of the children clung to the sidelines like wallflowers at a middle school dance, but their balloons were doomed just the same. The entire battle was over in a matter of seconds, leaving only one balloon inflated. Its owner was, of course, the most disliked kid in the class. It's hard to really win at a game like balloon stomp. In order to complete your mission, you have to be pushy, rude and offensive.

Roberts goes on to write that a second class was introduced to the same game. Only this time it was a class of mentally handicapped children. They were given the same explanation as the first class, and the signal to begin was given. But the game proceeded very differently. Perhaps the instructions were given too quickly for children with learning disabilities to grasp them. The one idea that got through was that the balloons were supposed to be popped. So it was the balloons, not the other players, that were viewed as enemies. Instead of fighting each other, they began helping each other pop balloons. One little girl knelt down and held her balloon carefully in place, like a holder for a field goal kicker. A little boy stomped it flat. Then he knelt down and held his balloon for her. It went on like this for several minutes until all the balloons were vanquished, and everybody cheered. Everybody won.

Who got the game right, and who got the game wrong? In our world, we tend to think of another person's success as one less opportunity for us to succeed. There can only be one top dog, one top banana, one big kahuna. If we ever find ourselves in that enviable position, we will fight like mad to maintain our hold on it. A lot of companies fail to enjoy prolonged success because the people in charge have this "balloon stomp" mentality. In the church, the rules change. Jesus Christ gets top billing. We're just here to serve his purposes, and we do that most effectively by elevating others and humbling ourselves.

 
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.

 
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GETTING PAST YOUR PAST

Consider Charles Colson, the aide to Richard Nixon who was sent to jail for Watergate. As as a result of his experience as a convicted felon, Colson founded Prison Fellowship, now the worldís largest Christian outreach to prisoners and their families. Prison Fellowship has more than 50,000 volunteers working in hundreds of prisons in 88 countries around the world. A ministry that has blessed millions of people got started twenty-five years ago because Charles Colson committed a crime. Godís eternal purposes for that man included even the sin that sent him to prison. It was a part of Godís plan from the very beginning.

But the story that matters most to you isnít Peterís, or Paulís, or even Charles Colsonís. Itís yours. And what I want to say to you this morning is that the story of your life has not been ruined, not by your sin or anyone elseís. Godís good plan for your life is not buried under the mistakes of the past. God has a plan for your life, a good plan, a wise plan, a loving plan, a sovereign plan, and that plan is still in effect. You havenít missed it. He is working ...

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GOD JUST NEEDS A VOICE

John Stott, a well-known British pastor and theologian, was invited to preach at the University of Sydney in Australia; but after he got there, he lost his voice. He describes his experience as follows:

"What can you do with a missionary who has no voice? We had come to the last night of the [evangelistic campaign]. The students had booked the big university hall. A group of students gathered around me, and I asked them to pray as Paul did, that this thorn in the flesh might be taken from me. But we went on to pray that if it pleased God to keep me in weakness, I would rejoice in my infirmities in order that the power of Christ might rest upon me.

"As it turned out, I had to get within one inch of the microphone just to croak the gospel. I was unable to use any inflection of voice to express my personality. It was just a croak in a monotone, and all the time we were crying to God that his power would be demonstrated in human weakness. Well, I can honestly say that there was a far greater response that night than any other night. Iíve been back to Australia ten times now, and on every occasion somebody has come up to me and said, "Do you remember that night when you lost your voice? I was converted that night."

God doesnít need eloquence to reach people. He just needs a voice, your voice, with a living, vital connection to Him in prayer.

I like the way Luci Swindoll once put it. She writes: "A friend of mine was caught in an elevator during a power failure. At first, there was momentary panic as all seven strangers talked at once. Then my friend remembered the tiny flashlight he had in his pocket. When he turned it on, the fear dissipated. During the 45 minutes they were stuck together they told jokes, laughed, and even sang. [The Bible] says we are that flashlight. Just as the flashlight draws power from its batteries, we draw power from Jesus. As light, we dissipate fear, bring relief, and lift spirits. We donít even have to be big to be effective. We just have to be íon.í"

(Source: Student Leadership, Spring 1993, p. 32. Luci Swindoll, "Heart to Heart," Todayís Christian Woman. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, "The Power of His Presence" 7/10/2009)

For more from Chuck, visit http://www.insight.org

 
Contributed By:
Bill Butsko
 
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If the Blind Put Their Hand in Godís

Helen Keller, shortly before her sixtieth birthday, expressed pity for the real unseeing, for those who have eyes yet do not see. Her long years of physical blindness have given her a spiritual insight which enables her to enjoy life in all its fullness. She says: "If the blind put their hand in Godís, they find their way more surely than those who see but have not faith or purpose."

----Western Recorder

 
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