In the Final Analysis

 

No fooling!

While browsing in a South Dakota souvenir shop, I ran across some fool’s gold. The shopkeepers weren’t trying to palm this shiny stuff off on a gullible public. It was clearly labeled.

Properly labeled fool’s gold fools no one. It’s those deceptively packaged scams we must be so wary of.

While slick operators are out for our money, Satan is out for our souls (2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15).

Foolproof faith

Jesus warned of “false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Let the buyer beware.

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

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When Things Go Right

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Problems we don’t have

Today was a typical Tuesday. The newspaper was on the driveway. The trash was picked up on schedule. The mail came. Our utilities, phones, and Internet service worked all day without a hitch.

I’m amazed to think of the thousands of miles of safe travel the Lord has granted me. Should I be shocked if someday I have a serious accident?

Most days we aren’t victims of a crime, our house doesn’t burn, and no tornado sweeps through.

The Christian perspective

For all our struggles, we have far more going for us than against us—especially if we’re Christians (Romans 8:28, 31-39).

And even when life turns sour, it won’t always be like this (1 Peter 5:10).

“Thus far the LORD has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12). Amen.

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

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When Trouble Comes

Multiple sorrows

A church bulletin made mention of a member who lost her father and uncle, and her mother broke a hip—and all on the same day!

“When sorrows come, they come not single spies,/But in battalions” (Shakespeare, Hamlet).

Though troubles don’t often pile up like this, it certainly can happen.

Abundant help

The bulletin that reported this member’s triple losses stated, “Ann has requested our prayers on their behalf.”

More than once I’ve heard a Christian say during a time of sorrow, “I don’t know what people do who don’t have the church.”

Of all people, Christians are the best equipped for handling adversity. They have the Lord to lean on, His word to comfort, and fellow believers to provide support.

That’s why Ann knew where to turn in time of loss.

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Inside/Outside

Outward appearance

I watched my nephew unwrap a candy bar, then immediately throw it away uneaten. It was infested with bugs!

The Lord doesn’t need to remove the wrapper around our hearts to know what’s inside (John 2:24-25).

Jesus directed His harshest words at the Pharisees: “For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27, emphasis added).

How much easier to care more about looking good than being righteous!

As our preacher Joel Shelton says, “God hates fake!”

Inward integrity

In contrast, Jesus could say of Nathanael, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (John 1:47).

Nathanael was the real-deal—from the inside out.

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

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Workers and Shirkers

Half-hearted

Fellow-employees Ron and John (not their real names) were talking. As they part, Ron says, “Don’t work too hard, John.” “Oh, don’t worry,” says John, “I won’t. Minimum wage—minimum work!”

John may have been joking, but his response reflects the don’t-sweat-it attitude of many.

The hard worker is likely not too popular with the minimum crowd.

Whole-hearted

The Christian must not be one of the just-get-by guys. What Paul says to believing slaves applies in principle to the Christian employee:

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24, emphasis added).

Minimum John doesn’t know what he’s missing!

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

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Following Instructions

Wrong number

When Susan was seven, she wanted to call a friend. I gave her the number but got the last two digits wrong.

I told my son Monte, “Well, it was close enough. It shouldn’t make any difference, should it?”

In His word God tells us to be baptized (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Does it matter how?

The dictionary says baptize means “to immerse in water or sprinkle or pour water on…” http://www.dictionary.com/browse/baptize?s=t/.

Does the dictionary settle it?

The Greek word for baptize (baptizō) means immerse. Greek words for “sprinkle” and “pour” are not used for baptism.

New Testament baptism is clearly immersion (Mark 1:9-10; Acts 8:38-39; John 3:23).

In baptism we are buried and raised with Christ (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12-13).

If you’ve not been immersed, have you been buried and raised with Christ?

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Where Repentance Begins

Thinking at its best

“And when he came to himself . . .” (Luke 15:17). The Prodigal Son was now tasting the bitter fruit of his foolishness. Having hit bottom, he made up his mind to go home.

Honest self-examination is one of the hardest but one of the best things we can do. Since repentance involves a change of mind, thinking is critical.

We must make time to think.

Thoughtless living

To be saved we must repent (Acts 17:30-31). But how can we repent if we don’t think?

Satan knows that. If we let him distract us with entertainment, pleasure, or busy-ness, when will we ever get around to reflecting on our sins?

Have we, like the Prodigal, come to ourselves?

Like him, our story can have a happy ending.

Something to think about, isn’t it?

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