Worship in Jerusalem then
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For 15 centuries the Israelite people exhibited a remarkable geographical cohesion. After their miraculous liberation from slavery and exodus from a country no longer hospitable to them, they settled in Canaan and stayed put. Each of the tribes was assigned a territory. The whole country was chosen by God partly for its compactness—it averaged only about 60 miles in width and about 100 miles from north to south. That compactness made centralization possible. God wanted all family leaders to present... Read More
I don't have any friends
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It isn’t too hard to acquire relatives, classmates, and coworkers. It is much harder to gain friends, real friends, people who love and accept you, flaws and all. Perhaps you’ve heard the cry of the heart from a kid to his mom, “I don’t have any friends.” Perhaps he had been betrayed by people he thought liked him, people who later mocked him publicly or used him to get something they wanted. Do you fear sometimes that you don’t have... Read More
Everybody but me has it together
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Okay, Lord, time for some honesty. When I look at the people around me, the people I’m related to, work with, and live near, they all seem to be doing better than I am. I want to be happy for them, but to tell the truth, inside I envy and resent how successful they seem. Why did you ordain such a hard road for me? Did I do it to myself? Or am I the victim of the neglect of... Read More
Inheriting
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There are legal and moral ways to acquire money other than by working. One of them is by inheriting. It is a beautiful thing when people make estate plans and actually leave a bequest to friends and relatives. Aye, but here’s the rub—inheritances are often not expected (and thus not planned for), and as such can lead people to sudden extravagant spending. “An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end” (Proverbs 20:21). What on... Read More
Small faith
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Somebody observed once that you can tell how big a person’s God is by how big his or her prayers are. Do you get the point? Do you agree? Whom really do you worship? Is he omnipotent or semi-omnipotent? Is he the King and Lord of all or just the duke or earl of all? Is he the Master of the universe or merely a middle manager? Has Satan really been dealt a mortal blow or is it just a... Read More
So many prodigals
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A mother groans, “What did we do wrong? Why is our daughter seeing another woman?” Parents in every generation since the fall have seen their children reject the value system they were given. You can transfer financial wealth to the next generation, but you can’t believe for them. You can’t simply transplant faith from your heart to theirs. As great a man as the prophet Samuel was, he must have felt like a terrible failure as a father. “When Samuel... Read More
I'm tired
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Why do you suppose so many people run away from God and try their best to avoid going to church? My guess is that a lot of people are afraid of getting hustled. They assume that the church just wants to take from them. They assume that Christianity is basically a load of rules that will just add to their life’s burdens. Would it surprise you to know that God’s basic message to you is what he wants to give... Read More
You're talking with a woman!
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Jesus’ disciples were steeped in a male-only religious environment where women’s input was neither needed nor wanted. One day they returned from a trip into town for provisions to find a sight that amazed and disturbed them. They “were surprised to find [Jesus] talking with a woman” (John 4:27). God’s creative design for humanity was to create male and female in his image. Adam was made from dirt, and Eve was made from Adam. Men and women are gifted, both... Read More
I have trouble being happy
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As life goes on, sometimes it drags on, doesn’t it? Our gait slows, our heads droop. Saggy faces see only the ground, the dust, the litter, and garbage. When we look and think only about our own little worlds, the ones we’ve constructed, our lives can seem small and cramped and brittle. Things break. People let us down. Things we’ve woven unravel. Things we’ve built soften and erode like sand castles at the beach. “Lift up your heads,” the Bible... Read More
Hearts with no walls
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When God needed to impress on Adam and Eve how their sinful rebellion was going to hurt their lives, he had a different message for each. To Adam (and all men) God described how work itself would become frustrating and difficult. To Eve (and all wives and mothers) God announced that their children would cause them pain. The “Song of Simeon” has become a powerful hymn in the Christian liturgy, and its text has furnished comfort to thousands of Christian... Read More