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"Every day, in every way, things are getting better and better.” Do you buy into that seemingly cheerful philosophy? To be sure, some things are better. There is much less blatant racism in America now than there was when I was a boy. But our cities are now far more violent places. Marriages are far more fragile, and many couples never bother to get married in the first place. Out-of-wedlock births are out of control. Girls who should be playing... Read More
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Still more bad news. It’s bad enough that people have to suffer physically. But the evil one will also attack people’s souls. He will make unbelief look attractive to some believers and persuade them to lose interest in the faith. All of us who love the church, its worship and fellowship, its learning and outreach, want so badly to see steady, constant growth in numbers. We would like to think that someday everybody will be converted to faith in Christ.... Read More
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Jesus’ disciples were really looking forward to the visible power reign of the Messiah, and they expected it at any minute. They were not into all this suffering talk, like taking up one’s cross. They were much more into positioning themselves for cabinet positions in the new world order they felt sure was coming soon. How disappointed they must have been to hear, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be... Read More
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One of the sadder outcomes of Adam and Eve’s rebellion is that all of nature is out of whack. The beautiful world that God made as our home now fights with farmers who must wrest a harvest from dry, thorny ground by their own sweat. In Eden all of nature was Paradise. Now our world goes crazy occasionally, unleashing enormous blasts of destructive energy. Tsunamis, hurricanes, avalanches, earthquakes, and tornados strike suddenly, and they destroy and kill. And then there... Read More
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DON’T BE SURPRISED Every family that has ever owned a station wagon or minivan has heard the cry from the third row, “Are we there yet?” Dad grinds his teeth and says as patiently as he can, “No, not yet. We’ve got a ways to go.” Some Christians grimly track the strings of natural disasters, crime statistics, and disease epidemics in recent years and are convinced that the end of the world must be at hand because “things are getting... Read More
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Have you ever been troubled by the suspicion that evil seems to be winning? Does it seem to you that Christian values are eroding steadily? That the number of believers is declining? Maybe you are a member of a congregation whose numbers have shrunk drastically over the years. You can see that militant Islam is on the rise again, even in formerly all-Christian lands. Is God’s plan fading? Are your hopes fading? When that happens, it’s time to listen to... Read More
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You Will Enjoy God’s Praise Children have an enormous appetite for words of approval. Saintly parents know that one of their main jobs is to praise and build up their children and do it over and over. Maybe you know people who even as grown-ups don’t feel that they have their parents’ approval and have to scrape and struggle and beg for scraps of praise. Get this—God recognizes and celebrates the things his partners on earth do to draw lost... Read More
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When your life gets hard and you feel overwhelmed, you can tell yourself, “Well, at least I don’t have it as tough as Zerubbabel.” That man was the governor of Judea, whose monumental task it was to rebuild the shattered nation after the Babylonian armies’ terrible destruction and after 70 years of neglect and abandonment. Judea was burned, broken, and choked with weeds. Zerubbabel was all too aware that he lacked both the people and resources to do this impossible... Read More
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You Are God’s Prophets Yes, you are prophets too. Not in the narrow sense of those specially chosen people with miraculous abilities, directly revealed messages from God, and authorship of a book of the Bible like Daniel or Ezekiel. But you are indeed a prophet in the wider sense of one who speaks God’s words and carries God’s power and authority. Joel foretold the New Testament age that dawned when the Pentecost miracle occurred (see Acts 2). We are still... Read More
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YOU’VE BEEN COMMISSIONED When civilians get caught in a war zone with live fire, their first instinct is to dive for cover, keep their heads down, stay motionless, and refuse to emerge until everything is peaceful again. You know, as you ponder the terrible power of our deadly enemies and try to visualize the shocking collapse of the physical universe, I can’t blame you if you feel like a civilian. I can’t blame you if you feel small and weak... Read More