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Dr. Larry  Petton
 
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WHAT ARE YOU FEEDING ON?

I really enjoy visiting Yellowstone. In fact, one of these days, when Jesus comes back, I've got dubs on Yellowstone! Come and visit me for a while!

Once when I was visiting the greatest national park in America, I heard a story about bears that was amazing. In the 1950's and 60's, tourists could drive right up to a bear, roll down their window and feed their McDonald's hamburger to the hungry animal. He would gladly take the burger along with the hand of the tourist! The bears were changing their feeding habits and endangering visitors.

As a result, the National Park Service removed the bears and took them to higher country where God had already provided for them a natural diet of luscious berries. However, because the bears had changed their feeding patterns, many of them refused to eat the berries and some actually died.

This story is an incredible picture of the lives of many believers in Christ. Sadly, many of us have been delivered out of spiritual Egypt and bondage to sin, but we have not been brought into the Promised Land of victory. It is interesting that God told the Israelites to eat the roasted lamb they had sacrificed (Exodus 12). The Passover lamb is a picture of the death of Christ. But feeding on the lamb is a picture of how we grow in Christ once we have been saved.

What are you feeding on in your personal life? Are you spending time alone with Christ in the Word of God? Are you allowing the junk food of this world's values to destroy your spiritual appetite for the Word of God? Feed on the Lamb of God and don't allow the Enemy to feed you a lie.

 
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Julian Silva
 
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While I was working in the V Corps Chaplain’s office in Frankfurt, Germany; I came in contact with many wonderful Christian individuals. One of the most inspiring was a German by the name of Carl Scholz. In speaking to him one day, he related to me of how that during the Second World War he served as a Nazi soldier, but not believing fully in what they were doing, he tried to desert, but failing in his attempt, was captured and thrown into prison. He was accused as a deserter, and thus was sentenced to die before a firing squad along with another of his conrades.
When the day came they were both marched to the outskirts of the town, and the spot where they were supposted to be executed. Not hearing the change of orders, Carl didn’t realize that all rifles were to be turned to his conrade instead, letting him live. Rifles fired, and in shock, he also fell to the ground. They picked him up and again was placed in prison. The months passed, and finally Carl was set free. The war had also ended, and not having any place to go to, he went from war-torn village to the next. One last hope was his only living relative, his mother...and by the time that he found her, he realized that she was entombed in the communist side of Berlin. Again lossing all hope, he made his dwellings in the bomb stricken buildings, drinking more and more with each passing day.
Finally receiving word that his mother had been killed while trying to escape the communist, he felt his last hope fly out of his body. He said to himself, "Now, what’s the use of living!" So, he went down to a near-by river hoping to drown his sorrows by throwing himself into the river. As he was about to jump he heard soft singing coming from a near-by wooden building. He could well remember the words...

"When Jesus comes the tempter’s Pow’r is broken,
When Jesus comes, the tears are wiped away;
He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory,
For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay."

Hearing such sweet words, he came closer to the building wanting to hear more about this Jesus. As he approached the door, he read those gentle words which have meant so much to millions of individuals throughout the ages...

"Gott Ist Liebe - God is Love;
Gott Ist Leben - God is Life!"

He went inside, and there for the first time he heard the wonderous love that God had for him. And how He send his only Begotten Son to die on the cross so that he could have life - and have it more abundantly! Eternal Life! Praise God! Carl found Christ at that moment! The young missionary said, "Christ says, ’Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest’" Carl said to himself, "If there is anyone here burdened down it’s me! I am tired of this life I am living." And that night, Carl went to the altar and said, "Lord, if it’s true that you can change the worst sinner like this missionary says, change me! If it’s true that you can give rest...give it to me! If it’s true that you can straighten out the most twisted life...straighten out mine!" And that night the Christ that had saved Carl from the firing squad also broke the chains of bondage of sin that had his life captive, and he got up from that altar a new person. Christ had saved him...he had forgiven his many sins.
And now, Carl has been preaching and helping in the Berean Missionary Fellowship in Erzhausen, Germany, and bringing others to Christ with his wonderous testimony of salvation.

 
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The Eskimo’s are among the greatest hunter’s of the world, but there is one animal that is the most difficult for them to catch. This animal has the greatest intellect, keenest smell, and the sharpest eyesight. And yet for the Eskimo’s to survive they must trap and kill this animal before it destroys their way of life. The animal I speak of is the white wolf. The white wolf has a sense of smell that can detect the presence of a human up to 2 miles away. It’s suggested that his eyesight is so great that if man had the same eyesight he could read a newspaper from 150 yards away. It is their eyesight, sense of smell, and their cunning that make them the most difficult animal to bring down. And yet, the Eskimo’s have devised a tactic that never fails. And it is similar to the tactic that the devil uses to attack Christians. The Eskimo’s say there is no sense in going against all the ability that the white wolf possesses. The devil says there no sense in going against the power of God in you. To bring down the white wolf, the Eskimo’s take a knife and sharpen it to a razor’s edge, put it outside and let it freeze, dip it in blood, freeze, again and again until there is a thick coat of blood on the knife. Then they go out into the wilderness and plant it in the ground blade up. The wolf scenting what is on the blade, and sensing that there is no danger, believes he has a free lunch. There is nothing to be alarmed about, so he makes his way to the knife. The blood has drawn him to it, and he licks it and nothing happens, he licks again and again. But with each lick he is working his way closer and closer to what’s going to destroy him. How many Christian’s have been tempted to give into sin, tempted to mix God’s standards with the world’s, tempted to take that lustful glance, that first drink, to tell that little white lie, to cheat on a test, to cheat on their taxes, or to cheat on their spouse. and have taken that 1st, 2nd, 3rd lick not knowing that their getting closer to what’s going to destroy them. Now, the white wolf gets comfortable and licks faster and faster as he tastes the frozen blood. Then he gets to the blade and slices his tongue but doesn’t even know it, because he is numbed by the bloody ice. Now he is tasting his own blood, but he continues to lick until the blade is clean and his tongue is shredded. He never walks more than a mile before he bleeds to death and the hunter has won. The devil has planted blades all around us. And all he wants you to do is to get comfortable with the first lick. No one will ever see, no one will ever know. Your safe, there is no harm. But with every lick you’re getting closer to the blade, to destruction, to death. The blades that Satan offers appear to be beautiful, desirable, something to be longed for, something that will bring satisfaction & pleasure. But they will destroy your life. Countless Christians have been overcome by things that Satan has set in front of them and they lost everything that was truly dear to them, their home, marriage, family, and friends. I can handle it.

 
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LETTING GO OF SIN

Men who trap animals in Africa for zoos in America say that one of the hardest animals to catch is the ring-tailed monkey. For the Zulus of that continent, however, it’s simple. They’ve been catching this agile little animal with ease for years. The method the Zulus use is based on knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it. This he cannot do. His fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can’t get free of th...

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BEWARE OF ATTACHMENTS

Felipe Massa of Brazil should have won the Formula One Grand Prix in Singapore in September 2008. But as he drove off from a refueling stop while in the lead, the fuel hose was still attached. By the time his team removed the hose, he had lost so much time that he finished 13th.

The apostle Paul warned Timothy of another kind of attachment that would cause him defeat—"the affairs of this life" (2 Timothy 2: 4). He urged Timothy not to let anything slow him down or distract him from the cause of his Lord and Master.

(From a sermon by Ajai Prakash, Be Strong, 6/22/2011)

 
Contributed By:
Bill Lobbs
 
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Let me give you an example to what I’m saying by sharing with you a story that I recently read in one of the history books in my library. I read how on July 3l, 1838 on the Island of Jamaica, a man named William Knibbs, gathered 10,000 slaves for a great praise gathering. They were celebrating the New Emancipation Proclamation Act that would abolish slavery on the island. They had built an immense coffin and into it were placed whips, branding irons, chains, fetters of all kinds, slave garments and all the things that represented the terrible slavery system that was now coming to a welcome end.

At the first stroke of the midnight bell, Knibbs shouted out, "The monster is dying." At each stroke of the bell that followed this cry was repeated and the great crowd began to join in the cry. At the twelfth stoke 10,000 voices cried out, "The monster is dead, the monster is dead, let us bury him." They then screwed the coffin lid down and lowered it into a huge grave and covered it up. That night, every heart rejoiced and 10,000 voices grew hoarse, shouting and crying with joy. Once they were in bondage to slavery, but now they were free.

There is a tragic side to this story. While many rejoiced in their new liberty and freedom, there were some slaves, that lived in remote areas of the island, that did not know they had legally been set free. Because they didn’t know, for many years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been made a law, they still continued to serve their slave masters. Their former masters successfully kept the news from them as long as they could. By law they had been declared free men and did not have to live as slaves any longer. However, ignorance of the truth kept them in bondage.
Now let me tell you an even sadder story. Today, if we’d hear a story of something like that happening, we’d be shocked, sympathetic and even angry. But the truth is, the same type of thing is happening in our day. Jesus Christ, because of his victory against sin on the cross, has issued an Emancipation Proclamation of liberty and freedom from sin to everyone on this earth. But like some of the Jamaicans were, there are those today that just don’t understand that they no longer have to live as slaves to sin any longer, and the devil is trying to keep them in that mind set.
The message of the cross is this: Satan has been defeated and sin’s penalty has been paid. We no longer have to surrender to sin or be controlled by Satan. We can belong to Jesus and live to please God.

 
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TALE OF TWO KINGS

Two of the greatest love stories ever told. The one, at Camelot; the other, at Calvary. Two of the noblest kings ever to live. The one, King Arthur; the other, King of the Jews. The one is adorned with a jeweled crown; the other, with a crown of thorns.
The comparisons and contrasts between Camelot and Calvary are many, but one scene from Camelot illustrates a great theological dilemma that only the cross could resolve.
Prior to His appointment with destiny on the brow of that fateful hill, Jesus agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Lk. 22:42).
Understand, on an emotional level, that this is the pleading of a son to his father. If your child came to you in such agony, wouldn’t you do everything within your power to grant the request?
But this Father, this time, didn’t respond as expected. And that’s the theological rub. He denied the request of His Son, His only Son, His beloved Son. In Gethsemane, that Son was asking:
"Is there no other way?"
The Son is betrayed, arrested, deserted, denied, beaten, tried, mocked, and finally crucified. Tacitly, the Father answers:
"No, there is no other way."
But why? Why was there no other way?

We find the answer to that question in a scene from Camelot, where the adulterous relationship between Queen Guenevere and Arthur’s most trusted knight, Sir Lancelot, has divided the Round Table. When the scheming Mordred catches them in a clandestine encounter, Lancelot escapes. Guenevere is not so fortunate. She faces a trial. The jury finds her guilty and sentences her to the flame.
As the day of execution nears, people come from miles around with one question in their minds: Would the king let her die?
Mordred gleefully captures the complexity of Arthur’s predicament:
Arthur! What a magnificent dilemma!
Let her die, your life is over;
Let her live, your life’s a fraud.
Which will it be, Arthur?
Do you kill the queen or kill the law?

Tragically but resolutely, Arthur decides: "Treason has been committed! The jury has ruled! Let justice be done!"
High from the castle window stands Arthur, as Guenevere enters the courtyard. She walks to her unlit stake, where the executioner stands with waiting torch. Arthur turns away, emotion brimming in his eyes.
A herald mounts the tower where Arthur has withdrawn: "The queen is at the stake, Your Majesty. Shall I signal the torch?"
But the king cannot answer.
Arthur’s love for Jenny spills from his broken heart: "I can’t! I can’t! I can’t let her die!"
Seeing Arthur crumble, Mordred relishes the moment: "Well, you’re human after all, aren’t you, Arthur? Human and helpless."
Tragically, Arthur realizes the truth of Mordred’s remark. Being only human, he is indeed helpless. But where this story ends, the greatest story ever told just begins.


Another Execution Scene.
Another time. Another place. Another king.
The setting: A world lies estranged from the God who loves it. Like Genevere, an unfaithful humanity stands guilty and in bondage, awaiting judgment’s torch.
Could God turn His head from the righteous demands of the law and simply excuse the world’s sin? If not, then could He turn His head from the world He loved? Would the king burn Guenevere?
Like the wicked Mordred, Satan must have looked on in delight:
God! What a magnificent dilemma!
Let them die, Your life is over;
Let them live, Your life’s a fraud;
Which will it be, God?
Do You kill Your world or do You kill the law?

Without even waiting for His Guenevere to look up in repentance, the King stepped down from His throne, took off His crown, laid aside His royal robes, and descended His castle’s polished steps into humanity’s pockmarked streets. Paul’s words in Philippians are thought by some scholars to be the lyrics of an ancient hymn, singing about the King of kings.

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Phil. 2:6-8

That scene in the movie was an epiphany of understanding. Suddenly, it all made sense. We know now why He had to die, why there was no other way.
When love and justice collide, only the cross offers a happy ending.

Source: Abridged excerpt from Ken Gire’s book Windows of the Soul. Copyright © 1996 by Ken Gire, Jr. Zondervan Publishing Houses.



 
Contributed By:
Donnie  Martin
 
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Once we were in bondage Satan and sin. But Jesus set us free.

A story told by Paul Lee Tan illustrates the meaning of redemption. He said that when A.J. Gordon was pastor of a church in Boston, he met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. Gordon inquired, "Son, where did you get those birds?" The boy replied, "I trapped them out in the field." "What are you going to do with them?" "I’m going to play with them, and then I guess 'll just feed them to an old cat we have at home." When Gordon offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, "Mister, you don't want them, they're just little old wild birds and can't sing very well." Gordon replied, "I'll give you $2 for the cage and the birds." "Okay, it's a deal, but you're making a bad bargain."
The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. Gordon walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue.
The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate his sermon about Christ's coming to seek and to save the lost paying for them with His own precious blood. "Th...

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Contributed By:
Russell Brownworth
 
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In a sermon several weeks ago I referred to a man I couldn’t reach. John was ex-Navy, a heavy drinker and a violent man. He was very personable when you first met him; when he drank enough beer the demons took over. I must confess that, until I met John I always thought people were born with a good nature, and, if they wound-up on the wrong side of things, had just somehow made a wrong turn. John taught me better.
John had married Rosemary only a few months before I met him; it was his fourth time at the marriage license bureau – her second. A few weeks after Rosemary joined our church, John came down the aisle also. We baptized him and it seemed they would escape the divorce statistic hanging over multiple marriages. Rosemary thought she could get John to quit drinking; she was wrong. It seems I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t reach John.
The crisis came less than a month after John’s baptism. The honeymoon had ended and John began drinking again. One night, late, Rosemary showed up at the parsonage door. She was bruised and scared. Elizabeth and I took her in, and I went to see John the next day. When I drove up to their front yard I was greeted by a strange sight. John had stuck empty beer cans on the end of every branch of the small orange tree in front of their trailer. The sign at the bottom of the tree read: This is for you, preacher man.
John was very drunk but still somewhat coherent…and very loud. He greeted me at the front door and invited me in. I only asked, John, how can I help? John talked angrily for the next twenty minutes. Finally, he looked at me with a hatred that wasn’t his own and said, I’m going to make a minister out of you.
Later that day Rosemary asked if we would accompany her to the trailer to get her clothes. We drove up and I went in first. He was calm and seemed reasonably sobered. He agreed to let Rosemary come in and get her belongings. When she came in he immediately began to threaten her. At one point he went to get his pistol. I urged Rosemary to forget her clothes and leave; it was a bad idea to come back. She was determined to get her clothing. When she went to the closet, John re-entered the room waving a pistol – a very BIG pistol! (I must say it looked a lot bigger from the wrong end of the barrel). After several tense moments John allowed us to return to the car where Elizabeth was waiting.
Several months later we got a letter from Rosemary thanking us for our help, and saying that she had settled in another state. Not long after that we heard about John – on the evening news. He had threatened people outside a K-Mart store with his pistol, and when the police showed up he committed suicide. A painfully tortured mind and life came to a wasted end.
Was John saved? I don’t know; I am not equipped to judge that. He made a profession of faith and was baptized, but his behavior never changed. That leads me to an opinion he never really believed – never really trusted Christ. It is only an opinion – God knows the real truth. Beyond opinion, however, it is true beyond any doubt that saved people have a Savior; John’s savior, what he really seemed to trust-in was Budweiser.
Now the point of John’s story, a painful reminder of my own failure, is that we cannot save ourselves – and, without Jesus, I’m just the same as John. Many people would say that the only difference is that alcohol made John do the things he did; John’s problem was alcohol, not sin. The alcohol only loosened-up John’s inhibitions to do those things which were already on the inside. The reality is we all have those things on the inside; the doctrine of total depravity teaches us that! Every human being on the face of this planet who has ever lived was/is capable of doing whatever horrific deed you can dream up. This is why we need a Savior.

 
Contributed By:
Jeff Strite
 
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FALSE TEACHING: SINLESSNESS

The Apostle John wrote:
"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One."

Now I want to digress for a moment and address a false teaching that has arisen out of this issue. Some have taken passages like this, which say we don't have to sin, and have come up with the false doctrine known as "perfectionism".
"Perfectionism" is the false teaching that says Christians can reach a point of ultimate and unchanging sinlessness. From that point on in their lives they NEVER sin.

I know of at least one denomination that has made this a central teaching of their churches. And I know of at least 3 or 4 of our brotherhood's preachers who've taught this.

It ain't true.
It never was true.
It's built on a false understanding of Scripture.
It's a very appealing doctrine, but it can't stand up to real life application.

ILLUS: One of my preacher friends who taught this false doctrine invited me out to eat with him years ago. Now, I was there to eat. He was there to talk doctrine. But I knew I was in for a long theological debate when he asked me "Jeff do you believe that you can ever be sinless?"
Of course I knew what he was asking. And I knew WHY he was asking it. He wanted to enlist me in his cause.
I just wanted to eat.
I didn't want to get into an argument at the dinner table.
So I cut to the chase.

"Well Fred (his name wasn't Fred by the way) have you reached that point of sinlessness in your life?"
He thought about that for a moment and then quietly said "No, I haven't reached that point in my life."
"Well, Fred, do you know anyone else who's reached that point of sinlessness in THEIR lives?"
Again he gave it some thought and finally said "No" he didn't know of anyone who was sinless either.
"Well, I tell you what Fred, when you find someone who's reached that point in their lives, you come talk to me again about this and we'll discuss it."
That ended the discussion... and allowed me to finish my meal.

My friend was being honest with me.
A pure life where a person NEVER sins is a pipe dream.
No one manages it, and those who do drive themselves to distraction because they can't attain it.

But now, if we can't attain total sinlessness, if we can't reach a point in our lives when we never sin again... what did John mean by saying:
"I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One."

Well, John meant that our aim in life should be to avoid sinning.

ILLUS: I have often had conversations with people who want to be baptized into Christ, but they're afraid that after becoming Christians, they'll mess up and sin again and it will all be for naught. This is a real stumbling block for many people.

Years ago, I came up with a way of helping people to understand what Christianity is all about. I say, "here's the deal. The more you walk with Jesus, the less you're going to sin."

And I ask them if they've ever skated? (yes, they'll say)
Did they ever "fall down"? (yeah a lot)
If they skated again today, would the fall down as much as they did to begin with? (no)
Then I talk about professional ice skaters.
Do they ever fall down?
Well, yeah, but a whole lot less than you or I would if we tried those stunts.
Why don't they fall down as much as we do?
Because they've spent more time on their skates than we have.
In fact, they've spent so much time on their skates that's it's almost like walking for them. But they still fall down -- once in a while.

John tells us he wrote his letter so we wouldn't sin.
The more we walk with Jesus in His light the less we're going to fall into dark behaviors.
But if we do sin... we have an advocate with the Father -- Jesus

You see, all this starts when we become Christians.

Paul writes in Romans 6:
"...don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-- BECAUSE ANYONE WHO HAS DIED HAS BEEN FREED FROM SIN. Romans 6:3-7

 
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