Beyond Reading

I have quite a few books on my shelf about eating and exercising properly. I subscribe to a magazine that has all kinds of articles about diet and workouts. I enjoy reading and about fitness and saving some of the better ideas to review later. However, all of my reading and studying would be worthless if I didn’t actually put that knowledge to use. If I don’t eat properly and exercise regularly, all of my reading would be for nothing.

The same holds true for reading the Bible. If we don’t put into practice what we learn from Scripture, we might as well have not read it at all.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”—James 1:22.


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No Looking Back!

Luke 17:32 contains a short warning—“Remember Lot’s wife!” We all should remember what happened to Lot’s wife. Lot had been warned that he needed to flee the coming destruction of Sodom. He and his family were to leave without looking back. His wife, however, couldn’t resist the temptation. She looked behind her, perhaps longingly, at the worldly city that had incurred God’s wrath. And she lost her life because of her disobedience.

Once we decide to follow God, we need to continue on that forward path. Jesus says that those who put their hand to the plow and then look back are not worthy of the kingdom. We can’t set our sights on worldly things without becoming worldly ourselves. Once we have put our sinful past behind us, let us continue to move forward to bigger and better things.


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I once found a drawing that someone had made on the white board in a room where I teach a Wednesday night class at church. The drawing appeared to have been made by a child in elementary school. The problem was that the artist had used a permanent marker. Not to worry. He or she left a note of apology…written on the white board with the permanent marker!

It wasn’t such a big deal to clean up. Just a few minutes of hard scrubbing with a cleaning solution took care of the problem.

If only it were so easy to remove the stain of our sins! That is a job that is impossible to do ourselves. We have to trust Jesus to do that for us.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”—John 1:29.


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All I Want for Christmas

I agree with Dennis the Menace, who said in a recent (12-14-19) cartoon, “All I want for Christmas is a lot of presents!”

It’s far too easy to get caught up in thinking about the gifts we will give others, or the gifts that we might receive. But let’s make sure that we spend a lot of time contemplating the greatest gift of all—Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world!

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”—2 Corinthians 9:15.


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The Christmas Story

When I was in junior high my classmates and I all had to memorize the Christmas story from Luke 2 as part of our school work. In these days where the ACLU is vigilantly trying to protect us from all things Christian, it would be rare for any teacher in a public school to give such an assignment. My, how times have changed!

Luke 2 starts out by giving us the historical setting. The Bible doesn’t read like a fairy tale—“Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…” Luke gives us the place and time in history when Jesus was born.

Joseph was one of the major players in this story. He trusted God and believed the incredible truth that his wife-to-be, who was pregnant without his involvement, was carrying a child that was conceived miraculously; a child who was indeed the son of God. Through his faith and humble obedience, Joseph accepted his role in God’s unfolding story—the story of bringing salvation to all humanity through Jesus.

Of course Mary was there. She had declared herself to be the Lord’s servant, accepting her role in God’s plan. She would have the honor of giving birth to the son of God. After the birth of Jesus, Luke says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19).

The angels were there to announce the birth of Jesus. The arrival of the newborn king was worthy of a heavenly proclamation.

And who were the recipients of this proclamation and the invitation to come to the manger for a firsthand view of the wondrous arrival of the baby who was to be the Savior of all people? It wasn’t the rulers. It wasn’t the rich people. It was the lowly shepherds! The good news of the arrival of Jesus was given to common, ordinary people.

As we read this beautiful Scripture, it is important that we see our own place in God’s story. May we have a trusting faith like Joseph. May we show humble obedience like Mary. May we express a wondrous desire that the shepherds had to seek Jesus and to spread the good news of his arrival to other people.


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Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey’s original holiday classic, “All I Want for Christmas Is You”, has reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart—25 years after its release!

I don’t know how often hit songs attain such a level of success a quarter century after they were first released, but I can’t imagine it happens all that often. It adds some credence to that old saying—“Good things come to those who wait.”

“Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return.”—Ecclesiastes 11:1


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Bury Him Where?

Rick Majerus

The University of Kentucky men’s basketball team plays against Utah in Las Vegas tonight. Looking forward to the game, someone dug up a quote from former Utah coach Rick Majerus, who passed away seven years ago. Majerus, who was 0-6 in his career against Kentucky, once said, “When I die they might as well bury me at the finish line at Churchill Downs so they can run over me one more time.”

Sometimes life doesn’t go the way we planned. It’s good to be able to keep our sense of humor as we accept a difficult outcome and move on.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”—1 Corinthians 15:58.


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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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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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