Pre-determined Course

There are a lot more deer in the area where I live than there used to be. They are beautiful creatures, and fascinating to watch, but they sure can do some damage to your car when they run out in front of you as you are driving along the highway. My wife and I have each hit two deer with our vehicles in the past 6 years or so.

The thing that I notice about deer running across a highway is that it seems that quite often they have made a final decision about their direction. They have chosen a path and they will not deviate from that path for any reason whatsoever. Even if their pre-determined course leads them to their doom, they will stay the course.

Some people are like that. They choose to ignore God and head down a path of destruction. Friends and family members may plead with them to reconsider their ways, but they will not do so. They have already made up their mind, and they continue down the path of destruction.

That doesn’t mean we should stop trying to save them. After all, occasionally a deer will actually turn around and run to safety. Sometimes people will do that too.

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”—Proverbs 14:12.

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Sacrificial Bam

Bam Adebayo

Bam Adebayo played close to the basket the one year he spent with the University of Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team. He did not attempt a single shot from 3-point range.

However, in his workouts leading up to tonight’s NBA draft, Bam is shocking people with his ability to shoot the ball from long range. In a drill for the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday, he made 13 of 25 3-pointers!

This shows Adebayo’s willingness to sacrifice for the team. Even though he had the ability to shoot from outside, he obeyed the coaches and stayed near the basket, a strategy that the coaching staff believed gave the team the best chance to win. What a team player!

Are you a good team player in your church? What sacrifices are you willing to make for the benefit of the church?

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”—Philippians 2:3-4.

 

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Lost

Sometimes when people have a pet that gets lost, they put up posters in the neighborhood. These posters contain a picture of the pet and other relevant information, including a number to call in case you find the missing kitty or doggie.

Parents will do the same thing when a child goes missing. Desperate to be reunited with their loved one, they will go to great lengths to see that their son or daughter makes it home safely.

If only we were that diligent with people who are lost spiritually.

“Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”—Jude 22-23.

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Berry Blessed

I love berries. I have some type of berries with my cereal almost every day. It doesn’t matter what kind. I just love berries.

You can imagine how pleased I was to discover berries on our property when we moved into our new house last year. First I noticed the black raspberries. Then a few weeks later, the red raspberries began to ripen. After that, the blackberry season started. I picked a lot of berries last year, and still have quite a few in the freezer.

This year, the black raspberries are much more plentiful than last year. I have already picked an abundance of the flavorful fruit. The red raspberry crop that will soon follow appears to be a bumper crop as well.

I recently noticed that we also have mulberries on our property. So, within a short walk from my back door, we have four different types of tasty berries. It’s a good place for a berry lover to live.

In Jesus, our blessings are abundant, and they are available every day!

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”—Psalm 34:8.

 

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The Importance of Baptism

Baptism should be a doctrine that unites all Christians, yet it has historically been a divisive issue. There are many different views on baptism, and some of these views are far from the plain teaching in Scripture. I wish people would put away their denominational handbooks and simply rely on the Bible to teach them the importance of baptism.

Even the baptism of John the baptizer was of great importance. John’s baptism had to do with the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4). How would anyone dare to say that the baptism of Jesus is any less important? (See Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16 to read how baptism in the name of Jesus is for the forgiveness of sins.)

Luke 7:30 says, “But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.” Could it be that those who refuse to submit to the baptism of Jesus have rejected God’s purpose for their lives as well?

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”—Mark 16:16.

 

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Policing the Area

When one lady grew tired of scofflaw drivers speeding through her neighborhood, she took matters into her own hands, and got some instant results.

Standing at the edge of her yard, she pointed what appeared to be a radar gun at approaching vehicles that were exceeding the speed limit. Without fail, the lead-footed drivers would ease off the accelerator and slow down.

Little did they know that she wasn’t actually holding a radar gun. She was pointing her hair dryer at them!

People’s behavior tends to improve dramatically when they think that someone in authority might be watching them. And the fact that Jesus is watching us should encourage us to try to do the right thing!

“…The Judge is standing at the door!”—James 5:9.

 

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Seat of Humility

Mike Brown, left; Steve Kerr, right

Mike Brown was hired as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors after last season’s NBA playoffs. When head coach Steve Kerr became unable to perform his duties as he battled extreme back pain, Brown took over the head coaching responsibilities. Brown did quite well, guiding the Warriors to a perfect record in the playoffs until Kerr was able to resume his position on the bench.

Brown has shown a remarkable amount of humility through all this. He was willing to accept an assistant coach’s job even though he had 563 career regular season wins and 47 playoff victories as a head coach. Then, when Kerr was able to come back and coach again, Brown humbly returned to his seat as Kerr’s assistant.

There is a lot to be said for this kind of humility. In a sport where egos are typically inflated to the point of being ridiculous, Brown’s unassuming manner of putting the team first is quite refreshing indeed.

Every church could benefit from this kind of humility.

What kind of a team player are you?

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”—1 Peter 5:6.

 

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Religious Test

Bernie Sanders

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has recently received some well-deserved criticism over his questioning of President Donald Trump’s nominee for deputy budget director, Russell Vought. Sanders tried to portray Vought, an evangelical Christian, as anti-Islamic because of statements he made regarding his Christian beliefs.

Sanders appeared to be incredulous as he asked Vought if he really believed that Jews and Muslims stand condemned before God because of their refusal to believe in Jesus Christ.

Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” So it is right that Sanders be held accountable for his desire to impose a religious test on Vought because of his Christian beliefs.

However, there is another important issue that comes to light here. Sanders betrays a woeful lack of understanding of the Christian religion. The Christian faith is based on the fact that Jesus Christ is mankind’s only hope of salvation.

Jesus himself says, “…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” His followers agreed with his assessment when they continued to proclaim this truth—“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).

The idea that “there are many roads to God” may be attractive to many, but it is far from the truth expressed by Jesus Christ and his followers. That truth will not change due to anyone’s unwillingness to accept it.

 

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Not the Real Thing

As I was driving along the other day, something unusual caught my eye. It was a propane tank beside a house. No, there isn’t anything unusual about a propane tank near someone’s house. It was the fact that this particular propane tank was painted to look like a watermelon!

I don’t think it fooled anyone. Even a raccoon with a below average IQ would realize that this was not a huge watermelon. No amount of paint could make any reasonable person decide that this was anything other than a propane tank.

Some people try to paint themselves up to look like Christians. They might fool some people. They might even fool themselves. Most people are at least somewhat susceptible to self-deception.

However, we can’t fool God. Jesus warns against hypocrisy. Let us always be examining ourselves to see that we aren’t trying to pass ourselves off as something we are not. Let us be honest with ourselves, honest with others and honest to God.

“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”—Colossians 3:9-10.

 

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Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood

Mr. Rogers

“Mr. Rogers did not adequately prepare me for the people in my neighborhood!”—Unknown

Jesus says that we should love our neighbors. He didn’t ever say it would be easy. Neighbors can be loud, obnoxious, rude, cantankerous and difficult to love in many various ways. That does not relieve us of our obligation to show them the love of Jesus.

It is easy to love people who are loveable. Loving the unlovely is a different matter. Only with the help of Jesus can we hope to succeed in this type of radical love. And when we succeed, our neighborhood becomes a much better place in which to live.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”—Romans 12:18.

 

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