Friday, December 19, 2014

He Came to Feel Your Pain

A farmer made a sign advertising puppies for sale. A little boy read it and said, "Mister, I want to buy one of your puppies." The farmer said, "These puppies cost a lot of money, probably more than you can afford." The little boy said, "I've got 39 cents. Is that enough?"  "Sure," the farmer said. He whistled and called, "Come here, Dolly."

Out from the doghouse and down the ramp came Dolly, followed by four little puppies.  A few seconds later, a fifth dog came out, slipping down the ramp and lagging behind because it had two badly deformed legs. The little boy pointed to the frail dog and said, "I'll take that one!" The farmer knelt down and explained, "Son, you don't want that one. He'll never be able to run and play like the other dogs."

The boy reached down and rolled up his pants leg, revealing his artificial leg. He said, "Mister, I'll never be able to run and play like the other boys either, so that little puppy is going to need someone who understands."

Jesus left heaven and came to earth to experience everything we go through as humans. He felt the sting of rejection, the pull of temptation, the pressure of stress, and the ache of loneliness. "He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest." (Heb. 2:17-18). Hebrews 4:15 adds, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses." Jesus came to die for our sins, but He also came to feel your pain so He can sympathize with you. 

Are you going through a difficult time? He purchased you with His blood because He knew you would need someone who understands. Everything that you're going through, He's already been through in some way. He really does care about you!  www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com  www.makinglifecount.net
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Friday, December 12, 2014

When did the Wise Men go to Bethlehem?

Contrary to popular belief, the wise men (magi) didn't go to the manger in Bethlehem to worship Jesus. The Scriptures don’t tell us the exact time of their visit but it was sometime after the shepherds found Him in a manger. By the time the wise men arrived, Joseph and Mary had moved into a house (Matt. 2:11). 

We know that Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the Temple on the 8th day after birth to be dedicated. The Law told them to sacrifice a lamb as an offering for the first-born, but if they could not afford a lamb they could offer two turtledoves (Lev. 12:6-8). Because Joseph and Mary offered two turtledoves (Luke 2:24), we know they were poor at this time—which means that the magi had not yet come and given them the gift of gold. If they had received the gold by this time they would have been rich enough to buy a lamb.

After they made the sacrifice, they returned to Bethlehem. Luke says they went to Nazareth after this but he does not mean immediately. Luke’s account omits the visit of the magi and the fact that Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt because Herod ordered the male babies in Bethlehem to be killed (Matt. 2:13-14). It’s likely that the gift of gold funded their stay in Egypt which could have been two or more years.

Joseph kept his family in Egypt until the death of Herod, which was in the 37th year of his reign, when Jesus was between two and four years old. The exact date cannot be determined.

The Bible does not tell us how many wise men came to worship Jesus. Tradition says there were three magi because three gifts were presented but this is only an assumption. So now you know that the Bible does not say there were three Wise Men and they didn’t visit Him at the manger. However, don’t get upset when you see them depicted in a manger scene display. It’s not a theological problem and the manger scene reminds us that Jesus is the reason for the season. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com  www.makinglifecount.net
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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hiding the Light

Jesus said, “Men do not light a candle and put it under a bushel” (Matt. 5:15). Then He said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). He tells us four things:

1. WHAT to do—“Let your light shine”  Letting your light shine is something we choose to do. Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), so shining the light means to share the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to people living in darkness. You can’t shine your light until you first lighten up.

2. WHERE to shine the light—“before men” That means to shine the light wherever you go. Some people say, “My faith is a private thing. It’s just between me and God.” But Jesus never said faith is a private thing. Neither did Paul or Peter. So who said, “Faith is a private thing”? Satan said it. He wants you to hide it under a bushel so that no one can see it.  

3. HOW to shine the light —“in such a way that they may see your good works” There is a right way and a wrong way, and “in such a way” means to do it the right way. The way we communicate the gospel to others can make a difference in whether they accept it or reject it.
A woman was trying to give medicine to her dog. Every day she tried to force a tablespoon of medicine into the dog’s mouth but the dog would always resist and pull away. One day she knocked over the bottle of medicine and it spilled all over the floor. The dog went over to the puddle and lapped it up! The dog wasn’t resisting the medicine but was resisting the method its owner used—trying to force it down its throat. 
Don’t try to force the gospel down people’s throats. Communicate it in such a way that people will be drawn to God. More flies are caught with honey than vinegar. God loves them and can change their lives, so share it with joy.

4. WHY to shine the light—so they “will glorify your Father in heaven.” When people respond to the message and receive Christ, they end up glorifying God. But if we communicate the message in the wrong way, they may turn away from God.
The weirdest Christian I’ve ever met had a long white beard, wore an unusual looking hat and a coat covered with Jesus buttons. He peddled a bicycle that looked like a small car with signs all over it saying, “Turn or Burn” and “Jesus is Coming Soon.” He would ride it down the street, honk his horn and beat a drum, trying to get everyone to read his signs. Instead of people glorifying God, they thought he was crazy. I’m sure they were thinking, “If I become a Christian, I will have dress up like that, ride a bicycle with signs and beat a drum.” Of course, that’s not true, but that was the message he was sending.
Make a decision to shine your light today--and be sure to do it in the right way. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com   www.makinglifecount.net

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Blind Leading the Blind

In Matthew 15 Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites for promoting their traditions above God’s Word. The disciples reported to Him that He had offended the Pharisees. Jesus said, “Let them alone. They are blind guides of the blind, and if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (15:14).

Leave them alone? Didn’t He care about their destiny? For the longest time I couldn’t understand why Jesus said to ignore them. Sure, the Pharisees were set in their ways and wouldn’t change, but didn’t Jesus care about all those lost people who were following them? His statement makes it clear that the followers are just as accountable for their actions as the leaders. Even though they saw Jesus perform miracles, the people who followed the Pharisees chose to follow the false leaders.

Multitudes of people in Germany during WWII enthusiastically followed a demon-possessed dictator. Not one of them can say on the Judgment Day, “Lord, how can you blame me for following a dynamic leader? He was so magnetic and produced so many great military leaders. No one dared to question his leadership. I didn’t know that he was wrong.” Many pastors today are emphasizing leadership in church to the point it has become an idol. (If “leadership” were that important, Jesus would have taught us how to be great leaders instead of teaching us how to be servants and slaves of others!)

What can we learn from this? Be extremely careful about the spiritual leader that you choose to follow. Is that person feeding you spiritually or are you starving to death? Some people will follow a pastor who isn’t feeding them spiritually simply because they have been a member of that church for a long time. Is it your goal to become like that leader? Jesus said, “Everyone, after he is fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Life is too short to blindly follow a blind leader. If you aren’t growing closer to Jesus through that person’s ministry, take off your blindfold and find another church.

Some church members will blindly follow a rebellious deacon to overthrow a godly pastor. (See Korah's rebellion in Numbers 16:1-3, 31-33). I know of an associate pastor who orchestrated a rebellion against his senior pastor and split the church. The associate pastor led a group of his friends out of the church to start a new church in that town, appointing himself as their pastor. God will not only hold the associate pastor accountable for his rebellion but also the members who chose to blindly follow him.

What about you? Are you blindly following a blind leader? Have the courage to change course if necessary, and follow someone who is living a godly life and teaching the truth of God’s Word. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com  www.makinglifecount.net

If these devotionals are helping you spiritually, would you consider giving a year-end financial gift to Making Life Count Ministries?
·         People in over a dozen countries receive these devotionals by email every week.
·         We published over 260 Bible teachings in the last year on www.makinglifecount.net
·         Click here to read some testimonies we received.
You can give with a credit card or send a check to:
Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
Contributions are tax-deductible

Making Life Count Ministries is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt Bible teaching ministry.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mental Reference Points

First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It is God’s will for us to be a continually thankful people. How is it possible to do this? Thankfulness is an act of your will. I believe that having a “reference point” in your mind is the secret to being thankful. A reference point is a predicament that’s worse than what you are currently experiencing. You can become thankful in any situation if you will compare it with a worse set of circumstances. Here are three mental reference points:

Reference Point #1: Trading places with a less fortunate person.  
What if God made you swap places with a less fortunate person whenever you complained? Perhaps you’re complaining about your car that keeps breaking down. Now you get to swap places with a poor person in another country who would love to have your old clunker—and you get to ride a burro to your next destination. In your mind think about what it is like to be a person in a less fortunate situation and you’ll suddenly become thankful for your situation.

Reference Point #2: Memories of doing without
I know a man has always been thankful for his shoes. When I asked him why, he said, “When I was a boy during the Depression, my parents couldn’t afford to buy me new shoes. I put cardboard in my shoe bottoms whenever they got holes. When I walked through rain and snow, I had to keep replacing the cardboard. I’ve always been thankful for shoes because I’ve never forgotten wearing those shoes with holes in the bottom.” That’s a mental reference point.

Reference Point #3: Losing blessings and recovering them
Sometimes we don’t realize what we have until we lose it. My father had radiation treatments for throat cancer and lost his ability to taste food. His inability to enjoy a meal made eating a dreaded duty. After eating flavorless food for over a year, he sat down to eat dinner and was shocked that his taste had returned! It was the best meal he had ever eaten because he had a reference point—losing a blessing and then recovering it. You don’t have to actually lose the blessing if you’ll just grasp what it is like to be without it and then thank God for it.

Can you think of some reference points? Now try to remember them in every difficult situation and you will find yourself becoming more thankful.  
        
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Hands of Jesus

Many of the people in Nazareth were astonished by Jesus’ teaching and asked, “How are these miracles performed by His hands?” (Mark 6:2). Here are some of the miracles that came through His hands.

1. Provision through His hands. Have you ever wondered how Jesus turned 5 loaves and 2 fish into enough food to feed over 5,000 people? At some point in time the multiplication had to take place. Mark 6:41 gives us the answer: “He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them.” As the food was passing through His hands it multiplied!

2. Healing through His hands. He touched the leper with His hand and healed him (Matthew 8:3). He laid His hands on a blind man’s eyes and he could see everything clearly (Mark 8:25). He laid His hands on a woman who had been bent over double for 18 years and immediately she stood up straight (Luke 13:13). How was God’s healing power transferred to others to make them well? Through His hands.

3. Salvation through His hands. When the Romans crucified Jesus, they drove nails into His hands. As they did this, the blood He shed purchased salvation for all who will place their trust in Him (Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 1:18-19). After He rose from the dead, He showed Thomas the imprint of the nails in His hands and said, “Reach here your finger and see My hands” (John20:27). He will have the nail scars in His hands for all eternity to remind us of what He did to obtain our salvation.

Although Jesus is not physically on earth anymore, His hands can still touch you. He promised to be with us (in Spirit) even until the end of the world (Matt. 28:20). Do you need a touch from God? Call out to Him in faith and those same hands that fed the multitudes, healed the sick, and paid for your sins can still touch you.
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Listen to the song “One Pair of Hands

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Who will be #1 in Heaven? Part 2

Jesus said the way to become greatest in the next life is by being a humble servant to everyone during your time on earth. You'll view everyone in a higher position and you'll consider it a privilege to joyfully serve them. You'll never get offended when you aren’t appreciated. All glory and thanks goes to God alone. Just do this every moment of every day for the rest of your life and you might be a candidate for #1 in heaven. (I have a sneaking suspicion that the #1 position will go to someone we never heard of). Last week we listed 3 qualifications. Here are 3 more:

4. A “servant of all” is willing to do any job no matter how undignified it may be
E. Stanley Jones told a story about a man in India who became a Christian. The man was a Brahmin convert from the upper caste in India. Stanley asked him to clean the latrines, which he had never done before. The Indian man replied, "Brother Stanley, I'm converted, but not that far.” To be the servant of all we must be converted “that far.” No job is beneath you, including cleaning toilets, because you are serving God.

5. A “servant of all” doesn’t seek to be recognized. Many times we want others to compliment and recognize us for what we have done. Jesus said, “He (the master) does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded of you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done’” (Luke 17:9-10).

In case you’re wondering, it’s not wrong to be thanked for your service. If someone serves you, you should show your gratitude by thanking that person. And if you serve others and they thank you, you can humbly and graciously say, “I’m glad I was able to help you.” Keep in mind that we live to please the Lord and one day He will reward us for our service and “each man’s praise will come to him from God” (1 Cor. 4:5).

6. A “servant of all” sees everyone as more important. In God’s eyes the homeless man out on the streets is just as valuable as the most admired movie star who lives in a mansion (see Prov. 22:2). Philippians 2:3 says, “With humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” This does not mean that others are more important than we are, but that we are to regard them as more important. That means that the “servant of all” will not look down on anyone but will look up to those who are considered unimportant by this world’s standards.

Now you know what it means to be “the servant of all.” All that’s left is to put it into practice.

NEW BIBLE STUDY: Are all sins equal or are there degrees of sin? The answer might surprise you!

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