The Gift Package

One Christmas I saw a candy-cane shaped envelope of light cardboard, with “Happy Holidays” on both sides, and in small letters, “Scratch Gifts─Texas Lottery.” It was designed to hold lottery tickets!

Think about it. The recipient eagerly scratches off each ticket—likely, all duds. With a forced smile he thanks the giver while thinking, “Thanks for nothing!”

Sin is like this.

Sin provides momentary pleasure, but leaves regrets and painful memories.

“Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death” (Romans 6:21).

Satan’s “gifts” may be attractively packaged, but then what?

What God gives is no gamble.

It’s “a gift that keeps on giving.” It’s a sure thing!

Why turn it down?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Changing Church

Churches change—positively or negatively

The Ephesians left their first love (Revelation 2:1-7). “You were running well,” Paul wrote the Galatians, “who hindered you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7).

Satan hates the church, doing all he can to promote sin within the ranks, apathy, doctrinal drift, and division. He’s so subtle that if we’re not careful, before we know it, we’ve drifted.

So what are some positive changes?

One is repentance. Jesus tells five of the seven churches of Asia that repentance was needed among them (Revelation 2:5, 16, 21, 22; 3:3, 19). Five out of seven!

Another greatly needed change is spiritual growth (Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Peter 1:5-11; 3:18).

These positives help prevent the negatives Satan introduces.

If the church is to change, and it will, let’s make sure it’s change of the right kind!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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A Proofreader–How We Need One!

Error overlooked

In proofing my work, my mind sometimes plays tricks on me so that what I see is what I meant to write, not what I actually wrote.

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On a moral level, this too can happen: aware of others’ shortcomings; blind to our own.

Error exposed

Like a mirror, the Scriptures reveal how God sees us—so we can make needed changes (James 1:22-25; Revelation 3:14-22).

In writing, I want to find my mistakes so I can correct them. But what about my life? Am I as motivated to discover my failures and correct them?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24–emphasis added).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Not what we were, but what we become

Not what we were

He lied—repeatedly (Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-13). Yet we remember Abraham as the man of great faith, the friend of God (Romans 4:18-22; James 2:23).

Rahab is honored for her faithful help to Israel (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25).

He committed adultery, then murder. But his repentance was genuine–David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).

The one who cowardly denied Jesus quickly grew into the bold apostle Peter (Luke 22:54-62; Acts 4:1-22; 5:27-42).

But what we become

It’s not what we once were that counts in God’s book, but what He enables us to become—by His grace.

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The Balanced Life

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What balance requires

My dad balanced a sword on his chin while sitting in a chair on a ship in the Mediterranean! Keeping his eye on the sword, he kept his body moving to keep the sword vertical.

Balance requires constant attention and continual adjustment. And so with life.

Jesus spent time with people and alone with God. He taught both duty to God and man (Matthew 22:15-22, 35-40). He healed people’s bodies but also ministered to their souls. He was the perfect model of balance.

When balance is lacking

The Pharisees, in contrast, emphasized relatively minor things while neglecting higher priorities (Matthew 23:23). The results were not good.

May God help us recognize whenever we get out of balance, so we can adjust accordingly.

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Eating Like a Christian

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Is there is a Christian way to eat?

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Eat gratefully, thanking the Provider of our daily bread (Acts 14:17; 1 Timothy 4:3-4; John 6:11; Acts 27:35).

Eat moderately. The fruit of the Spirit includes self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Eat with others in view, sharing with those in need (Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 3:10-11; Acts 20:35).

According to Jesus:

“My food, is to do the will of Him who sent Me . . .” (John 4:34).“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life . . .” (John 6:27).

May we have the mind of Christ!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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“What have I done?”

“No man repented of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’ . . . . Were they ashamed of the abominations they had done? They certainly were not ashamed, and they did not know how to blush . . .” (Jeremiah 8:6, 12).

“What have I done?”

When our conscience “slaps us in the face,” we suddenly realize how sinful we are. How painful it is, but oh, how we need it! (Luke 22:54-62)

“Were they ashamed . . . ?”

Those in Jeremiah’s day “were not ashamed, and they did not know how to blush . . . .”

It is possible to have a seared conscience (1 Timothy 4:2).

What God values is “a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17).

That’s the kind of heart God can bless!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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