Hang In There!

Debra K. Johnson writes about the time her 7-year-old daughter wanted to take violin lessons. She took her daughter to a music store to rent an instrument. Hoping that the young girl would understand the importance of making a commitment to practice, Debra explained to her that the music lessons would be expensive. She was willing to make the financial sacrifices if her daughter promised to work hard. “There may be times you’ll feel like giving up,” Debra said, “but I want you to hang in there and keep on trying.”

She nodded in understanding and then in a serious voice said, “It will be just like marriage, right Mom?”

Or just like following Jesus.

“…Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown”—Revelation 2:10.

 

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Voice of Truth

Billy Graham

It has just been reported that evangelist Billy Graham has died at the age of 99. Graham preached to millions of people all over the world in his ministry that spanned about 70 years.

It will be interesting to see what people will say about Billy Graham as they review his life and ministry. He was bold in proclaiming the gospel truth, that there is no way to be saved except through Jesus. That is not a popular position in these times when truth is thought to be relative and political correctness is valued above all else.

Times may change, but Jesus never does. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”—Hebrews 13:8.

The followers of Jesus proclaimed him to be the only way to salvation—“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).

Jesus himself made some rather spectacular claims about himself—“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6).

Billy Graham spoke consistently, lovingly, passionately and truthfully about the gospel message. Now that his voice has been stilled, we must use our voices to spread the truth that salvation comes through Jesus.

 

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Define Respect

Olympic gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman posed nude for the 2018 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Perhaps in an effort to explain her decision, Raisman said, “We have to get to a point where everyone understands women do not need to be modest to be respected.”

Many disagree with her view and hope that we do not get to that point.

For another opinion on that topic, we could turn to the Bible—“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety…” (1 Timothy 2:9).

There are a lot of different opinions out there about the importance of modesty and the real definition of respect. Choose wisely before you make up your mind about that issue.

 

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Like New

The car I drive now wasn’t very old when I hit an animal that darted out in front of me on the highway. The impact cracked the plastic bumper on the front of the car. The damage was so slight that my wife and I decided not to go to the expense of fixing it. So I drove it as it was.

Sometimes I would forget about the imperfection. At other times it would bother me. But on I drove, for about 15 years. That’s when I hit another critter that suddenly ran out in front of me. This time my car wasn’t so fortunate, because the animal I hit was a full-grown deer. Amazingly, the deer walked away from the accident, but the damage to the car was so significant that it could not be ignored. Off to the repair shop it went.

In just a few days the front of the old car was looking brand new. Even the bumper that was damaged years ago had been repaired.

I guess the moral of this story (You knew there was going to be one, right?) is that sometimes we let old sins linger for years before we give them over to Jesus. We don’t have to go through life spiritually banged up. We can allow him to fix us up just like new. But we have to choose to do so.

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:8-9.

 

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Facing Your Problems

You know how when you look directly at one of those annoying eye floaters in your peripheral vision it will go away? That’s what I tried to do a few days ago. But when I turned to my left, the “floater” turned out to be a small spider dangling right in front of my face!

Whether our problems are real or imagined (or something that is real but much different than what we imagined!) they rarely go away until we have faced them.

The Israelite army was afraid to deal with the giant problem (pun intended) they faced in Goliath (1 Samuel 17). However, it wasn’t until David directly addressed the situation that the problem was resolved.

You can’t go through life ignoring your problems.

 

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Ups and Downs

Scott Hamilton

Retired U.S. figure skater Scott Hamilton achieved a lot in his career. Among his accomplishments, he won four consecutive U.S. Championships and four consecutive World Championships. Hamilton won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics.

However, life hasn’t always been easy for Scott Hamilton. He is a cancer survivor, having endured chemotherapy and surgery.

The road to the top in figure skating was quite difficult as well. Hamilton estimates that he fell down 41,600 times in his career. Of course that means that he got back up 41,600 times.

That’s what you have to do to succeed at anything in life. Sometimes you will get knocked down. Other times you will fall. There will be ups and downs. You can’t always control the times when you go down. But you can control whether or not you get back up.

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”—Hebrews 10:36.

 

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Don’t See the Irony

Occasionally people on social media will try to pressure me into sharing a particular post that they are passionate about. Their position basically boils down to this: You can’t really hate cancer, or love Jesus, etc. unless you pass along my brilliant words of wisdom.

I disagree with that. Furthermore, I think that there are too many people who think that they have served Jesus and their fellow humans simply by clicking on “Share” and then refusing to otherwise lift a finger to ever help anyone else.

I recently received a rather heavy-handed suggestion (threat?) that I pass along a particular public service announcement. The implication was that if I did not share this wonderful post with all my friends my heart could not possibly be in the right place. What was the topic of this post? Bullying! I kid you not!

Please tell me you see the irony.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”—Matthew 7:3.

 

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Give it to Jesus

Joyce Parson tells about the time when her three-year-old grandson found a quarter in the driveway as the family was leaving for church one Sunday morning. When they returned home after worship, the little boy pulled the quarter out of his pocket and handed it to his mother. “You can have this money, Mommy. I was going to give it to Jesus, but he wasn’t there.”

First of all, Jesus was no doubt at that church service, even if the little boy failed to sense his presence. Jesus promises to be with us always (Matthew 28:20).

Secondly, Jesus is always ready to accept even the smallest offering we can give to him.

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”—Matthew 10:42.

 

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Time for the Collection

G. Brian Manning writes about the time when his five-year-old son had just graduated from wearing bow ties to neck ties. He was so proud to be dressed just like his Dad.

However, one Sunday morning, his son clutched his tie tightly, and asked with a panicked whisper, “Dad, why did the pastor say they’re going to collect the ties and offering?”

You can understand how a five-year-old might become confused about the biblical principle of tithing. However, as we become older we don’t have much of an excuse to remain ignorant on the subject.

“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.”—Leviticus 27:30.

 

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You Can’t Compartmentalize Your Faith

Tony Dungy

Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy is now a professional football commentator. Dungy was criticized for his comments about this year’s Super Bowl performance by Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles. Dungy mentioned that Foles’ faith helped his performance in the big game. Some critics said that football analysis and religion should not be mixed.

The world will never understand that true Christians cannot compartmentalize their faith. We can’t put Jesus in a box and pretend that he does not influence every part of our lives.

Jesus says that we are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16). Christians infiltrate society and spread the truth of Jesus in any and every type of situation.

Faith that is not shared is not true faith. That’s true for quarterbacks, announcers and your average Christian who sits in the pew each Sunday.

 

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