Live to Be a Ripe Old Age

The day after Halloween a man saw a young boy eating a lot of candy. The man said, “You had better take it easy on that candy, young fellow! Too much of that will make you sick.”

The boy looked up and responded, “Mister, you could learn something from my great-grandfather, who lived to be 102.”

The man replied, “You mean to tell me that your great-grandfather ate a lot of candy and lived to be 102?”

“No. I mean to tell you that my great-grandfather lived to be 102 because he minded his own business!”

I suppose we all would do well to learn to mind our own business!

“A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them.”—Proverbs 14:3.

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When People Disappoint You

People disappoint us all the time. Friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, church members…the list goes on and on. Because of things they say or do—or fail to say or do—people let us down on a regular basis.

David records the following lament in Psalm 55:12—“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers.”

It hurts when people disappoint us, and when they do, we are left to decide how to respond. The Bible offers several different options.

Sometimes you have to endure it. David had been nothing but supportive of King Saul, but Saul returned the favor by trying to kill David. David had at least two opportunities to kill Saul, and few would have blamed him if he did. But David refused to lift his hand against the king. He chose instead to endure Saul’s disappointing behavior.

At other times you might go your separate ways. Paul and Barnabas got into a sharp dispute over whether or not they should take John Mark with them on their next missionary journey. These two leaders were no doubt disappointed with each other that they could not come to an agreement on this issue. They decided to split up and go their separate ways. Sometimes this is the best option when someone lets you down.

Another choice would be to rebuke the one who has disappointed you. Jesus was no doubt disheartened when Peter vehemently questioned the Lord’s plan to go to the cross. Jesus’ words, “Get behind me, Satan!” would no doubt ring in Peter’s ears for some time to come. However, Peter would eventually get his priorities aligned with God’s because Jesus chose to rebuke him.

Still another option in responding to those who disappoint you is to teach them a better way. His disciples repeatedly disappointed Jesus with their requests for places of prominence in his kingdom. He consistently met their disappointing behavior with lessons on humility, service and putting others first.

Perhaps the best way to deal with those who disappoint you is to forgive them. Jesus must have been terribly disappointed with the Jewish leaders’ response to the arrival of their Messiah. Instead of giving him the welcome he should have received, they conspired to have him put to death. “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:11). And Jesus responded by saying, “…Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…” (Luke 23:34).

So, we see that there are several ways to deal with people when they disappoint you. It takes wisdom and discernment to decide the best approach to take, so let’s take some time to pray and reflect before we make those decisions.

Here are two things to keep in mind. First, remember that we sometimes disappoint others. So let’s treat others the way that we would want to be treated in that kind of a situation. Second, God will never disappoint us, so let’s trust him to see us through any and every situation we might find ourselves in.

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The Little Things

A mighty tree stood high upon the mountain. For many decades it survived the hail, the heavy snows, the strong winds, the lightning and the ice storms. It not only survived, it prospered. Then finally it was felled by an attack of little beetles.

It’s the little things that you have to watch out for. Little things can end a friendship. Little things can wreck a family. Little things can destroy a marriage. Little things can pull you away from church. Little things can ruin your walk with Christ.

Yes, you have to watch out for the little things.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”—Ephesians 5:15-16.

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Looking for Someone Perfect

A preacher conducting a Bible study was trying to get across the point that no one is perfect. He asked the group if they knew, or had even heard of, someone who was perfect. One man insisted that he knew a man who had never made a mistake. The preacher pressed him for details. Did he really know the person? Had he ever met him? The man admitted that he had not met the man personally, but he had certainly heard a great deal about him. In fact, this storied man of many perfections was his wife’s first husband!

Actually, Jesus is the only perfect person who ever lived, and we must trust the sacrifice of his perfect life to pay the price of our quite imperfect ones.

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”—Romans 3:22-24.

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This is the time of year when young people try to figure out what they want to pretend to be for Halloween. They will wear a mask that makes them look like something that they are not—like a monster or a superhero. It is all in good fun, and few adults are actually fooled by these disguises.

The Bible tells us that the devil tries to disguise himself in order to fool people. 2 Cor.11:14-15 says, “…for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”

Some of Satan’s servants try to portray themselves as protectors of women’s rights when they are really promoting the destruction of innocent babies in the womb. Others would like to be seen as people who promote love, acceptance and tolerance, but they are actually enablers for those who choose lifestyles that are forbidden by God. Still others insist that the enlightened approach to economic success is to redistribute wealth by punishing the “makers” and rewarding the “takers”, but their ways are not God’s ways.

Don’t be fooled by Satan or any of his cohorts! See through their masquerades and point out their schemes to others.  

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Joining the Church

We often talk about people “joining the church” when they accept Christ as their savior. Maybe there is nothing wrong with using this term, but it is not how the Bible refers to how new members become a part of the church.

In Acts 2 we read about how the church began on the day of Pentecost. Peter preached the gospel message and urged those who believed in the crucified and resurrected Jesus to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (v.38). We read in verses 40-41, “With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

So, it doesn’t say that they “joined the church”. It says that they “were added”. This leads us to ask the question, “Who did the adding?” The answer is provided in v.47—“…And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Is there really a difference in saying someone was added to the church instead of saying that they joined it? Perhaps. If I join the church, I could get the idea that I set the terms of my membership. If the Lord adds me to the church, it is clear that he sets the terms.

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The Gospel Presented

Have you ever noticed how the gospel was presented to a wide variety of people when the church first came into existence? A quick glance at the book of Acts shows us that God’s plan to save the world through Jesus was revealed to people from all different walks of life.

In Acts 2 the gospel was presented to the religious people. The Jews, who should have recognized their Messiah, had instead rejected him and handed him over to be crucified. But God raised Jesus from the dead and the apostles proclaimed this Jesus to be Lord and Savior of all who would accept him through faith by repenting and being baptized.

In chapter 3 we see the good news revealed to the hurting. A man who was lame from birth was miraculously healed, and the spiritual lesson behind this miracle is that all who are hurting—for whatever reason—can be healed and enabled to walk with God.

Chapter 8 shows how salvation through Jesus was given to Simon the sorcerer, someone who was caught up in the occult. Even those who are deeply involved in weird religious practices are shown that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life.

The seeker finds Jesus in Acts 8. The man from Ethiopia had travelled a long way looking for some answers, and, with Philip’s help, this seeker found Jesus.

Acts 9 tells us how the gospel message found its way into the heart of a fanatic. Saul—later known as Paul—was a religious terrorist, going to great lengths to persecute believers of Jesus. Then, after his dramatic encounter with the resurrected Jesus, Saul’s life took an amazing turn for the better, climaxing in his sins being washed away in baptism (Acts 22:16).

In chapter 10 we read about how salvation came to Cornelius, a devout man who was praised for his prayers and generosity. We find, however, that even devout people need Jesus.

In Acts 16 we see that Lydia, a successful businesswoman, receives Christ. The world may look up to people who do well financially, but they are just like the rest of us, sinners in need of a savior.

Also in chapter 16 we see the gospel being presented to an abuser. The Philippian jailer may not have personally flogged Paul and Silas, but he was responsible for the wounds inflicted on these innocent men whose only crime was preaching Christ. After he repented, the jailer himself washed the wounds of the men he had abused. Then he and his whole household were baptized into Christ.

Skeptic philosophers are the beneficiaries of the church’s evangelistic efforts in Acts 17. The people in Athens loved to talk about and listen to the latest ideas about religion. They even had an altar built for the worship of “an unknown god”. (I guess they wanted to cover all the bases!). Paul explained to them that the one true God has been revealed to us in the crucified and resurrected Jesus.

In Acts 19 we read about how the gospel was revealed to the misinformed. Some believers in Ephesus had been improperly baptized. After hearing the truth, they were baptized correctly.

Chapters 24-26 show us how the gospel was presented to people in high government positions. Even powerful politicians (especially powerful politicians?!) need Jesus.

So we see in the early history of the church that the message of salvation through Jesus went out to all types of people. Some responded; some did not.

What was true back then is still true today. Everybody needs Jesus. And the church needs to be talking to everybody—yes, everybody—about Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.

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Frozen by Fear

Two farmers were talking one hot July day. One of them asked the other, “How is your cotton doing this year?”

“I didn’t plant any,” came the answer. “I was afraid of the boll weevil.”

“Well, how is your corn?”

“I didn’t plant any corn either. I was scared that there might be a drought.”

“How about your potatoes?”

“I don’t have any. I was afraid of potato bugs.”

The first farmer finally asked, “Well, what did you plant?”

“Nothing,” answered the second farmer. “I just played it safe.”

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a story of a man who played it safe. He was a servant who was supposed to make an investment for his master, but instead he didn’t do anything. He admits in v.25, “…I was afraid.”

The master called this fearful servant “wicked” and “lazy” (v.26) and subjected him to the ultimate punishment (v.30).

This story warns us about the danger of becoming frozen by fear. There are risks that we must take as we make investments in the kingdom of God. But we can’t allow these risks to cause us to be afraid to do anything at all!

Take some chances for the Lord. Invest in his kingdom and trust him for the results. Then you will hear the words that every follower of Jesus longs to hear some day—“…Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23).

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The Golden Rule

One of the best known ethical teachings comes from the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt.7:12). This teaching has come to be known as “The Golden Rule”.

Other religious teachers had expressed this thought in the negative—“Do not do to others what you yourself dislike”—but Jesus puts a positive spin on it and gives it a place of prominence in his teaching.

There are numerous ways that we can apply the Golden Rule to our lives. If we want respect, we should be respectful to others. If we would like to be treated kindly, we should be kind to those around us. If we would like for others to forgive us, then we must routinely practice forgiveness. The list goes on and on.

If everyone practiced the Golden Rule, what a better place this world would be!

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C6 H0

October 29, 2021 will mark the 100th anniversary of what is considered one of the greatest upsets in the history of college football. On that date in 1921, Centre College defeated Harvard University by a score of 6-0.

Harvard was a powerhouse in those days, having won four national championships over the previous ten seasons. Centre seemed to be greatly outmanned, but they prevailed in the end, giving the small school in Danville, Kentucky a win for the ages.

Many people in Danville painted or whitewashed C6 H0 on buildings to commemorate the victory. Time has erased most of those memorials. However, there is one building on Centre’s campus that still shows the score. Someone has kept repainting C6 H0 as a continuing reminder of that amazing victory.

The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the victory that Jesus won on the cross nearly 2,000 years ago, when he defeated sin once and for all for all of mankind. As long as we continue to celebrate communion together, time can never erase the memory of that victory!

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”—Luke 22:19-20.

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