Led By Moses

Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley had a celebrated college basketball career playing for Auburn. However, in his rookie season for the Philadelphia 76ers, Barkley was frustrated because he wasn’t getting much playing time. He turned to teammate Moses Malone, a veteran all-star, for advice.

“Moses, why am I not getting to play?”

Malone’s answer was very straightforward—“Because you’re fat and lazy. You can play at 300 pounds at Auburn. You can’t do that in the NBA.”

Rather than feeling hurt and resorting to moping, Barkley took his teammate’s words to heart. With Malone’s help, Charles lost about 50 pounds and went on to become one of the NBA’s best players.

We need more of this kind of mentoring and disciple-making in God’s kingdom. Sometimes some tough love from someone you trust is just what you need to get motivated to turn your life into something much more productive than it ever was before.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”—2 Timothy 3:16-17.


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A Time to Live and a Time to Die

John Grisham

The following story was told by best-selling novelist John Grisham:

“One of my best friends in college died when he was 25, just a few years after we had finished Mississippi State University. I was in law school, and he called me one day and wanted to get together. So we had lunch, and he told me he had terminal cancer.

I couldn’t believe it. I asked him, “What do you do when you realize that you are about to die?”

He said, “It’s real simple. You get things right with God, and you spend as much time with those you love as you can. Then you settle up with everybody else.” Then he said, “You know, really you ought to live every day like you have only a few more days to live.”

Grisham says, “That left an impression on me.”

What impressed Grisham should have an impact on us all. Few things impart more wisdom than to face up to the fact that we will all die sooner or later.

The deadly coronavirus pandemic is still infecting many people and taking many lives every day. This tragic calamity should cause us all to consider the brevity of life and the finality of life on earth. And it should cause us to want to live every day to the fullest, loving God and loving people to the best of our ability.

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”—Psalm 90:12.


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How to Keep Your Sanity

It looks like we will be spending more time staying home in an effort to keep the coronavirus from spreading. Many people are not handling the isolation very well. They long for their lives to get back to normal. They miss the social interaction that was such an important part of their daily lives. Some are experiencing mental and emotional stress that could take a heavy toll on them if they don’t respond to these circumstances in a positive way.

As usual, the Bible has some great advice for us. In 2 Timothy 4, Paul is in prison and feeling lonely. He is sure that his life will soon come to an end. Even though he holds on to his great faith in Jesus Christ, it seems that he is dealing with discouragement. What he does to combat this can be an example for any of us who may be feeling discouraged as well.

First, Paul acknowledges the truth about the situation. He is in prison, for no other reason than proclaiming the gospel. Some people have abandoned him, and one has done him a great deal of harm. He is cold and lonely and in need of some help. The first step in dealing with discouragement is to rightly assess the situation. There is nothing to be gained by sugar-coating what is happening around you. Don’t spend time whining and complaining, but it can be healthy to be truthful about your circumstances.

Then Paul asks for help. He wants Timothy to come and visit as soon as he can, and he asks him to bring Mark with him. He needs help for his ministry. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, he needs some company.

Third, we see the importance of maintaining a forgiving spirit. Paul doesn’t hold anything against those who deserted him in his time of need (v.16). Like Jesus did on the cross, he offered forgiveness to those who had wronged him. It has been said that withholding forgiveness is like taking poison and waiting for your enemy to die! Offering forgiveness can have great healing power for the mind and soul.

In addition, we see that Paul makes some practical requests. He wants Timothy to bring his cloak, a heavy garment that he would need in that cold prison. He also asks him to bring his reading material, possibly sections of Scripture. Who among us has not received comfort on a cold winter day by wrapping up in a warm garment and enjoying a good, uplifting book? Simple creature comforts go a long way to revive our spirits.

Finally, Paul remembers that the Lord faithfully stood at his side and gave him strength (v.17). Others had deserted him, but Jesus promises to never leave or forsake us—“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).

There you have some good biblical advice on how to stay mentally healthy in trying times. Stay safe. Stay strong. And God bless!



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Praying for Each Other

Many people are wondering what to do with their extra time as we stay at home in an effort to combat the coronavirus. During this pandemic we are urged to avoid going out in public. By isolating ourselves, we can help to prevent the virus from spreading. By staying home we keep ourselves healthy and keep others healthy too.

But what do we do while we are cooped up at home? There is only so much television we can watch. How about spending more time in prayer? The Bible urges us to “Pray continually.” (1 Thess.5:17). And, over and over, we are urged to pray for one another. Colossians 4:2-3 says “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us too…”

Let me offer a few practical suggestions about how to pray for your fellow Christians.

First, do you have a directory that lists the members of your congregation? Many churches do, and some even have a pictorial directory that enables you to put names with faces as you pray. Take some time to pray through the pages of your church directory. That way you can be sure that you don’t miss praying for anyone who is listed there. Pray not only for their health. Pray for their faith to grow, for their finances to be in order and for their families to be blessed.

Another way you can pray for other Christians is to pray through the contact list on your cell phone. Remember how it was back in the old days, when you actually had to remember phone numbers? Now you have them stored in your phone. Take some time to scroll through your contacts and say a prayer for the people listed there. You might even want to send them a text or give them a call to tell them that you just said a prayer for them. Everyone appreciates it when they know you are praying for them.

Finally, you can say prayers for people by remembering where they sit at church. You remember when we used to be able to go to church, right? (I am just kidding! Hopefully we will all be able to assemble together safely at our respective church buildings in the not-too-distant future.) If your church is like ours, most people tend to sit in the same seat every Sunday. Close your eyes and picture your church family with everyone assembled together. Then slowly go down each row and pray for people, one individual or one family at a time. You might not be able to remember everyone, but you will be surprised at how many people you have prayed for by the time you open up your eyes.

Those are just a few ways we can pray for our fellow believers. Let’s lift each other up to God, because we all certainly need all the prayers we can get!


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Well Done!

There is an old saying, “When all is said and done, more will have been said than done.” It is true that there seems to be a whole lot more talking than there is action.

Someone recently came up with a different spin on that quote. They offered, “When all is said and done, what was done will be more important than what was said.”

Perhaps we Christians should take note of this. We tend to do a lot of talking, but the world is more convinced of our faith when we show it to them than when we simply talk about it.

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that our words aren’t important. After all, I do make my living as a preacher! However, we can’t spend all our lives talking so much that we never manage to get anything done.

Remember, the phrase we look forward to hearing from Jesus is not, “Well said!” It’s “Well done!”

“His master replied, ‘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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What You Can Do

John Wooden

The great basketball coach John Wooden, who was also an outspoken Christian, once said, “Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.”

Many people might be focused on what they can’t do during this time when we are staying at home to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We can’t: go to the movies, attend church, watch current sports on television, mingle with friends, go to church, etc.

Let’s take the advice of the old coach and focus on what we can do. We can: pray, read the Bible, sing to the Lord, phone a friend, take a walk…well, you take over. Create a list of the positive things you can do during these unusual times. Then do them!

“…Make the most of every opportunity.”—Colossians 4:5.


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Appropriate Applause

I just saw a video of a woman being discharged from a hospital in Texas. She had just recovered from the coronavirus. As she was being wheeled to the front door, dozens of hospital employees lined the lobby, applauding and cheering for the recovered patient. It was reported that the lady said that the hospital workers were the ones who really deserved the applause.

We frequently hear cheers and applause when someone is baptized into Christ at our church. I think that the celebration is an appropriate response when someone has been healed from their sin. I also think that the One deserving the applause is Jesus.

“And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.”—Acts 22:16.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”—Romans 5:8.


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Chance to Produce

If you haven’t heard, the spring college sports season has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. This has caused a lot of sadness on the part of sports fans, but the decision was necessary because of health concerns. The athletes were disappointed at the prospect of losing a year of competition, especially the seniors who were scheduled to play in their final season.

However, earlier this week the NCAA announced that participants in spring sports such as baseball, softball, lacrosse, etc., would receive an extra year of eligibility. This means that athletes, if they so choose, can have another chance to come back and have a productive season next year.

This reminds me of a parable that Jesus tells in Luke 13. A landowner noticed that a certain fig tree in his vineyard wasn’t producing any fruit. He told the man who was taking care of the vineyard for him that he ought to cut the tree down. The man, however, suggested that they give the tree another chance. He would dig around it and fertilize it. In verse 9 he says, “If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.”

The Lord expects us to produce fruit for his kingdom. If you haven’t been doing that, this is serious. It calls for repentance on your part. Perhaps the Lord is giving you some extra time to do something productive. If so, don’t waste that chance!

“…But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”—Luke 13:5.

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”—Matthew 3:8.


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Entrance to the Kingdom

We have some friends who live near Disneyland and for several years they have purchased season passes to the magic kingdom. Their 2-year-old daughter has lived her whole life being able to go to Disney on a regular basis.

This little girl’s life has been changed drastically with Disney being closed because of the coronavirus. Her parents have talked with her about the situation, and she seems to have a pretty good understanding of what is happening. However, she—like the rest of us—is anxious to get back to her normal lifestyle. She is constantly asking her Daddy, “Can we go to Disneyland when the germs go away?”

Sin is like germs that keep us from entering God’s kingdom. Thankfully, Jesus provided the cure when he died on the cross. All we have to do is accept the cure by responding to the grace God has offered us through Jesus.

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”—Hebrews 9:27-28.


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Social Distancing

“Social distancing” is one of the most important ways we are battling against the current coronavirus pandemic. We have been urged by medical experts and elected officials to self-isolate. By keeping our distance from one another, we can slow the spread of the disease so that fewer people are infected, thus preventing our health care system from being overloaded with more cases than they can handle.

In order to comply with these guidelines, many sporting events have been cancelled or postponed. Businesses and services are temporarily closing. People are working from home if possible. Many are limiting their contact with the outside world as much as possible. Churches are cancelling gatherings and streaming their worship services on the internet.

This is where many Christians become uncomfortable. We are so used to having the right to religious freedom that it doesn’t seem right that we should be told not to meet together. Let’s take a look at what Scripture says about the matter.

First of all, consider what Leviticus 13 says to do if someone is suspected of having a serious infectious disease. More than once in this chapter it says that the person is to be isolated from other people. I believe this is a direct Bible reference to what we are now calling “social distancing”. The fact that the dangerous coronavirus can be spread by people who do not yet know they are sick is the reason we are being urged to self-isolate. And it is indeed a biblical principle.

Some Christians are saying, “You just need to have faith. God will protect us from this virus.” And they continue to gather together in large numbers, disregarding what health experts and government officials say, and ignoring the Scriptural principle of isolation to prevent the spread of disease.

Remember that one of the ways the devil tempted Jesus was to urge him to jump off the highest point of the temple. Satan pointed out that God would surely protect Jesus from being harmed. Jesus responded that it is sinful to “…put the Lord your God to the test.” We must not deliberately put ourselves in harm’s way and demand that God protect us. Jesus proclaims this to be sinful.

Some are insisting that these government-issued guidelines are an infringement on our religious rights, and that they can be freely ignored by those who follow Jesus. Let’s think about that. The government has not asked us to give up our beliefs. They have not said that we must stop praying, reading the Bible, singing, taking communion or anything like that. They have simply asked us not to meet in large crowds for the next few weeks.

Romans 13:1-7 says that we Christians have a responsibility to obey the government as long as they are not telling us to disobey God. This Scripture reminds us that the purpose of government is to protect the well-being of its citizens. Here is what Terry Carter, president of Summit Theological Seminary, has to say about this passage—“To resist the government when they are protecting their citizens is to resist God Himself.”

Finally, there is what I like to call “The Good Neighbor Policy”. Jesus says that the second greatest commandment, after the commandment to love God, is to love our neighbor. How can we claim to truly love our neighbor while possibly putting them in harm’s way by carelessly meeting together in large groups, disregarding the best information we have from medical authorities, elected officials and God Himself?

To sum it all up, social distancing is God’s way to prevent the spread of dangerous diseases. Is it yours?


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