Desertion
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Military commanders hate desertion. It drains the fighting strength of their unit and is terrible for morale. It is also contagious if not dealt with, and so historically deserters who were arrested were often in for severe punishment—imprisonment, flogging, or even execution. Ministry leaders hate desertion too. Not only does it deprive the church’s ministries of someone’s talents, relationships, and energy, but people are concerned about the spiritual state of the soul and heart of the deserter. St. Paul recruited... Read More
Stretch
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Nobody mends clothes anymore. Machine-made fabrics and mechanical sewing and assembly on a huge scale have made clothes so cheap that when something tears you just pitch it out and buy another. Even the poor can go to a thrift store and outfit their kids for a few dollars. But in the days when all clothes were painstakingly made by hand from cloth woven by hand from yarn spun by hand from fleeces sheared by hand, the cost of a... Read More
I don't know
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For us pastors, three words that come very hard from our lips are I don’t know. We try so hard to have answers from the Word for all your questions, but God’s activity in human history is so vast and his Word is often so very terse, that we need to exercise some humility about the limits of our understanding. And that’s okay. An example: Genesis chapter 5 hints at the life of an amazing man named Enoch, an ancestor... Read More
I'm afraid of being found out
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Everybody has secrets, things we are glad other people don’t know. But some people are sitting on past secrets that would drop a bomb on their lives if the information ever got out. What’s in your closet? Maybe it’s a felony for which you were never caught. Maybe you are an illegal alien. Maybe you cheated on your spouse. Maybe you got your job under false pretenses. Maybe your kids have been in major trouble with the police, but your... Read More
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Of course you will. Your personality, skills, abilities, and relationships were all designed by God to last beyond the grave. You may look a little different from the way you appeared in your casket—Scripture promises that you will undergo complete physical restoration—and so you might have to wear a name tag at first. The Bible calls Jesus the first installment of the resurrection from the dead, and so a peek at the resurrection stories is instructive. The risen Christ looked... Read More
Pray for its prosperity
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In Daniel’s visions of the four great empires that were to rule the Middle East for the next millennium (chapter 7), the Babylonian Empire, in whose government he was serving, was depicted as a beast. Daniel himself had been deported from Judea as an unwilling captive following the crushing defeat of the Judean armies. Babylonian soldiers had looted the temple and carted the sacred worship vessels back east. And yet the prophet Jeremiah had this to say to those exiled... Read More
Shop till you drop
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There are only two kinds of people on the day after Thanksgiving—those who get up at 4:00 a.m. so they can get in line when the stores first open and those who wouldn’t shop on “Black Friday” at gunpoint. How about you—do you love or hate the big sale days? People just can’t resist getting lured into the frenzy. The media enjoy whipping us into a lather—“must shop . . . must get to sale . . . must buy... Read More
Cause and effect
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There is a reason why our culture has so enthusiastically embraced annual birthday and wedding remembrances. Time slides by, and we tend to take one another for granted. Birthdays and anniversaries are helpful reminders about the importance of the dear people whom God has sent into our lives. An annual call to national thanksgiving is just as urgent and helpful. President Lincoln knew that America badly needed God’s help, and even in a time of terrible war, he wanted Americans... Read More
You are able to resist temptation
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TV dramas and movies generally portray sexual excitement only between people who are not married to each other. “Falling in love” is exciting because you can’t control those desires—you can only obey them. “Out of control” sexuality seems to make better video. Genesis chapter 39 brings us the unbelievably wonderful story of a manservant with enough self-control to resist the allure of a quickie with a wealthy and beautiful married woman who was throwing herself at him. “Now Joseph was... Read More
Grateful for grace
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One of life’s bitterest ironies from God’s point of view is that the lowlifes of Jewish society, the tax collectors and prostitutes and “sinners,” were more likely to listen to Jesus and welcome his message of grace and forgiveness. The church people, the Pharisees and teachers, didn’t need him and didn’t want him. It’s because they weren’t aware of their many sins and because they rated themselves proficient and advanced in personal holiness by comparison with the lowlifes that they... Read More