Willing Sacrifice

I heard a great quote about the participants in the annual Army/Navy football game. This statement was made by John Trainor, a police captain in New Jersey, and the father of Cadet running back John Trainor. He said, “It’s the only game that everyone who’s playing is willing to die for everyone who’s watching it.”

That’s an amazing thought!

Here’s another wonderful thought—“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”—Romans 5:6-8.

 

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Ousted

Dan Spilo

For the first time ever, the CBS reality show “Survivor” has removed a player from the game. Dan Spilo was kicked off the show for repeated inappropriate touching. He was warned about such behavior, yet failed to heed the warning. Spilo has been removed from the game, meaning that he will not sit on the jury with the players who have been voted out by their peers.

The Bible teaches that those in the church who commit deviant offenses are to be warned against such behavior. If they fail to repent, they are to suffer serious consequences. We should take this teaching to heart if we are serious about maintaining holiness in the church.

“Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.”—Titus 3:10-11.

 

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Sign of Strength and Majesty

I like this essay I found that was written by Earl Palmer, so I thought I would pass it along.

“The religious and political leaders who were in power at the time misread the events of Jesus’ birth. When a woman is to have a baby, she goes to the best hospital she and her husband can afford. They find the best doctors and highly trained specialists. They get the best that money can buy. And they do this not because they feel strong, but because they feel weak.

When God’s Son was born, He was born in a stable under very austere and unsanitary conditions. It happened this way not because God was poor, but because God was sure of himself.

The leaders misread the signs. The baby born in the stable is not a sign of a weak and ineffectual king. But it is a sign of a majesty who is secure and knows who He is. It’s a sign of love. The leaders of that time didn’t know anything about that. And so they missed it.”

I think Earl Palmer has some pretty good insight; insight that was lacking in those who missed the importance of the appearance of Jesus and the significance of the manner in which he arrived.

Let us be sure to take some time to reflect on what the Scripture says about the birth of Jesus. Let us meditate deeply on the meaning of his birth, his life and his death and resurrection. May we all have a deep appreciation for what Christmas really means!

“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.—John 1:11-12.

 

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Caught Napping

You know how you sometimes get sleepy after eating a big meal? That happened to me last week when my family got together for Thanksgiving. We enjoyed a huge feast, then I sat down on the couch to watch the small children play. Before I knew it my eyes got heavy and would not stay open.

My 2-year-old great nephew noticed that I had dozed off and announced to everyone in the room—“Him asleep.”

There’s nothing wrong with taking a nap when you are tired, but we must be careful not to be spiritually sleep-walking through life. We have to stay alert at all times.

“And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”—Romans 13:11.

 

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Thankful Prayer

One way we could be more thankful is to be more devoted to prayer. Practically everyone prays, but most people don’t pray much. Those who do pray usually spend more time asking God for more things than they do thanking him for the things he has already given them.

I just heard of a church that recently had their own version of a thanksgiving service. The worship time was exclusively devoted to giving thanks to God. No one was allowed to ask God for anything! What a novel idea!

Colossians 4:2 urges us—“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” For most of us, this means that we should spend more time in prayer than we currently do. It also means that we should be watching for ways to pray specifically in God’s will. And it certainly means that we should make thanksgiving a big part of our conversations with God.

Have a happy and prayerful Thanksgiving!

 

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Fretful or Thankful?

God wants us to be thankful, not just at Thanksgiving, but all year round. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

One of the greatest impediments to thanksgiving is worry. People who are always fretting about one thing or another cannot give their best expression of gratitude to God. Chronic worriers need to show more faith in the Lord. Jesus has quite a lengthy section in the Sermon on the Mount about avoiding the sin of worry.

What is it that you are anxious about? Don’t let your anxiety take away the peace that God wants all his children to experience. By trusting God more, you can open up new avenues of expressing gratitude to the One who created you, who offers you salvation through the crucified and resurrected Jesus and who showers you with countless blessings every single day.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”—Colossians 3:15

 

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What Method Do You Use?

D.L. Moody

One day a lady criticized D.L. Moody for his methods of evangelism in attempting to win people to the Lord. Moody’s reply was “I agree with you. I don’t like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?” The lady replied, “I don’t do it.” Moody retorted, “Then I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”

What method do you use?

“’Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.’”—Mark 1:17

 

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Are You Sure?

US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference

At a recent press conference, President Trump asked a reporter, “Are you sure you are a reporter?”

I don’t know the context of the exchange, but I think that is a legitimate question to ask many who work in the media today. It seems that so many of them want to be the story instead of report the story. Too often we hear what the reporter wishes had happened instead of what actually happened. To ask if they really are reporters is a fair question.

We Christians are called to be witnesses to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are not the story; Jesus is the story. We must not slant the story in any way that reflects our own personal bias. We should simply report the facts.

That brings us to a very important question: Are you sure you are a reporter of the gospel message?

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…”–Acts 1:8

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Bosses and Leaders

A boss instills fear; a leader instills confidence. A boss creates resentment; a leader creates enthusiasm. A boss say, “I”; a leader says, “We.” A boss fixes blame; a leader fixes mistakes. A boss knows how; a leader shows how. Bosses make work drudgery; leaders make work interesting. A boss relies on authority; a leader relies on cooperation. A boss drives; a leader leads.

The church needs fewer bosses and more leaders.

Are you up for the challenge?

“…If your gift is…to lead, do it diligently…”—Romans 12:6-8

 

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The Lord’s Harvest

Autumn is the time of year when farmers work long hours to harvest their crops. Months after the ground was prepared and the seed was planted, the grain is finally ready to pick. The ripe soybeans and corn are gathered and taken to market.

This process might remind those of us who follow Christ that the Lord has a harvest too. Just as the farmer diligently works to bring in the crops, we also must be about the business of working in the Lord’s harvest, bringing people to him.

First, we need to see the potential of the Lord’s harvest. In John 4:35, Jesus says to his disciples, “…I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” He uses this agricultural metaphor to point out that there are a great number of people who need to be gathered into his kingdom. If we don’t see many people around us who need to come to Jesus, we just aren’t seeing what’s really out there! It’s time we began to see the world as Jesus sees it—filled with many lost souls who are ripe for the harvest.

Second, we ought to be praying about the harvest. That is what Jesus encourages us to do in Matthew 9:37-38—“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” It’s still true that there is a great need for more workers in the Lord’s harvest. Many churches are often short on teachers, youth workers, those who help with benevolent and outreach efforts, etc. We need to pray that God will send people out to work in his harvest. If we try to send them, it’s easy for them to say, “No”. But if God sends them, that’s another matter! Oh, and when we finish praying, we need to be ready for any assignment God might give to us ourselves. Like one old farmer said, “When you pray for a good crop, you’d better have a hoe in your hand when you say ‘Amen’”!

Finally, we need to go in the power the Lord has given us when we go to work in the Lord’s harvest. Serving under our own power is insufficient. God has given us tremendous power to serve in his fields. We only need to make use of that power. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Do you see the potential? Are you praying for God to send people? Are you using the tremendous power that God makes available to you? Let’s all be diligent workers in the Lord’s harvest!

 

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