Monday, August 31, 2015

The Modern-Day Pharisee Test

The Pharisees were more concerned with performing religious rituals than connecting with God. We can easily get sidetracked and become modern-day Pharisees. The questions below will examine your motives and will reveal if your relationship with God goes beyond the four walls of a church.

1. Do you view a church building as “God’s house”?
2. Do you believe that Church is something you go to?
3. Do you "go to church" so that the pastor will see you in attendance?
4. Do you give your offerings without ever thinking about the Lord receiving them?
5. Do you give your offerings mainly because you feel pressured by the pastor to tithe?
6. Do you read your Bible because you want others to know you are doing it?
7. Do you serve in your church or elsewhere because you want others to respect you?
8. Do you look down on people who don’t attend church?
9. Do you ever sing to God in worship when you’re not in church?
10. Do you pray more when you are away from church or when you’re in church?
11. Do you ever tell God that you love Him?
12. Are you the same person away from church as you are when you’re in church?

Ask God to show you the correct answers and if something needs to change in your life. “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).

Slaying Your Giants is filled with interesting stories, humor, and practical advice about how to conquer 20 giants (fear, depression, discontentment, self-image, anger, and more)

Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Legalism of the Pharisees

The Pharisees were the false religious teachers who constantly opposed Jesus. There were 613 commands in the Old Testament but the Pharisees created over 1,500 additional “fence laws” for the people to obey. They believed the best way to keep people from breaking God’s Law was to build a protective barrier around that Law, even though the Lord never told them to do this. The people of Jesus’ day were burdened down by man-made legalistic rules that God never commanded.

Exodus 20:10 says not to work on the Sabbath day, so the Pharisees created 39 types of prohibited work so no one would break the Law. Here are some of their fence laws:
***You could not spit on the Sabbath because it would disturb the dirt and you would be guilty of plowing.
***You could not swat a fly on the Sabbath because you would be guilty of hunting.
***A woman could not look at her reflection because she might see a gray hair and pluck it out, which would be doing work.

They created loopholes to get around some laws.
***If your house was burning down on a Sabbath, you could not carry clothes out of it. However, you were allowed to put on several layers of clothes as the house was burning down. You could leave without breaking the law because you were wearing them instead of carrying them.
***You could not travel more than 3/5 mile from your house on the Sabbath. However, you could leave food 3/5 mile from your home on the night before, which would make it permissible to travel twice the distance without breaking the law.

Your relationship with God should be a joy, not a job. If you aren’t enjoying your relationship with Him, something is wrong. Maybe you’re trying to follow man-made legalistic rules instead of loving the Lord. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, and the second greatest is to love your neighbor as yourself. “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

To get your priorities corrected, you might need to unchain yourself from legalistic rules. You might need to change churches. You might need to re-examine what you believe and make sure it lines up with the Scriptures. Life is too short to get it wrong. Do whatever it takes to set yourself free from legalism.

To read more about the strange customs of the Pharisees: Who were the Pharisees?

Slaying Your Giants is filled with interesting stories, humor, and practical advice about how to conquer 20 giants (fear, depression, discontentment, self-image, anger, and more)
The Sure Cure for Worry contains amazing true stories and helps the reader see God is in control.

Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

God Has a Purpose for Your Pit

Joseph was thrown into a pit in the wilderness by his jealous brothers. They planned to kill him, but his brother Reuben suggested they throw him into a nearby pit instead (Gen. 37:18-22). It was no accident that the pit just happened to be at that spot. Someone came at an earlier time and dug the hole, and then abandoned it—never realizing that God had guided him to do that. The Lord knew that a pit needed to be at that exact spot, which would one day save Joseph’s life. It was an ordained pit. Notice three things:

1. The pit gave them another option so that Joseph wouldn’t be killed. His brothers intended to kill him (Plan A) but the pit gave them another way to get rid of him without shedding blood (Plan B). Rueben told his brothers, “Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit…but do not lay hands on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father (37:22).

2. God made sure the pit was dry. “Now the pit was empty without any water in it” (37:24). Normally these pits collected rainwater, but this one didn’t. If water had been in it, Joseph would have drowned. God made sure the conditions were right for Joseph to live.

3. The pit was used as a holding tank until the Midianite traders came by, bought him as a slave and escorted him to Egypt (37:25-28). It was no accident that the traders just happened to travel by that route at just the right time. God was leading them (without them knowing it) so they would take Joseph to the ordained destination. The Lord orchestrated a divine appointment to exalt him to be a ruler in Egypt.

Sooner or later, someone is going to throw you into a pit. When it happens, keep in mind that the Lord has a purpose for your pit, just like He had a purpose for Joseph’s pit. Even though it’s not the best of circumstances, it’s keeping something worse from happening to you. Your enemy might think that he has won by rejecting you, but God always has the last word in your situation. He is using your pit as a temporary situation to get you to a much better place. And He will, if you will keep trusting God, keep your heart right and not get bitter at the one who threw you in the pit.

Do you have questions about the Bible? Read 66 Answers to Bible Questions

Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Stay Away From Kryptonite

When I was a kid, my favorite TV show was Superman. I loved it when he would fly into the open window to rescue Lois Lane from the bad guys, who could always be identified as evil by their thin mustaches. The thugs tried to kill Superman by shooting him, but the bullets just ricocheted off his chest as he smiled. When they ran out of bullets they threw the gun at him, which also bounced off! Superman usually grabbed a steel bar, which just happened to be available in the room, and wrapped it around the bag guys until the police arrived.

Superman could stop cars and bend steel bars, but he had one weakness—kryptonite. Once he got near a green rock that came from the planet Krypton, he would lose his supernatural powers and would die if he didn’t get away from it. He had to avoid kryptonite at all costs.
What is your kryptonite? Don't underestimate its power to destroy you. Here are three things to do:

1. Realize you are vulnerable. The biggest mistake is to think you can never yield to temptation. Don’t ever say, “I would never fall for that.” You would be setting yourself up for a test. "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12).

2. Stay away from the kryptonite. Avoid those people, places, and things that will destroy you. “Will power” grows weak when you get near kryptonite, but if you stay away from it, it cannot affect you. This will require that you plan ahead and make an alternate path--and stick to it.

3. Depend on God's grace for your strength. Stop depending on your own strength and trust God to strengthen you by His grace (Heb. 13:9). The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. The Holy Spirit is your only source of holiness and spiritual power.

Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174

Friday, July 24, 2015

From Fame to Shame

In the 84th Boston Marathon in 1980, Rosie Ruiz (pictured) was the first woman to cross the finish line. As she climbed to the winner's podium to accept her wreath, officials noticed that she looked remarkably fresh and sweat-free for having run two hours and 32 minutes.

Upon investigation, no one could remember seeing her during the race. Monitors at the race checkpoints hadn't seen her, nor had any of the runners. Finally, a few members of the crowd came forward to reveal that they had seen her jump into the race during the final half mile and sprint to the finish line. Rosie was disqualified, stripped of her title, and became another member of the Hall of Shame.

Before we condemn Rosie for cheating, let me ask if you have ever cheated on a test? What about cheating at golf? Cheated on your taxes? Cheated on your spouse? Kept the extra change the cashier gave you? Probably so. We have no right to cast stones. We’re all members of the Hall of Shame. We've all done things we're ashamed of. "There is none righteous, not even one." (Romans 3:10).

The good news is God can forgive cheaters. "If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee." (Psalm 30:3-4) If you need forgiveness, call out to Jesus with a sincere heart. He will wipe the record clean and give you a new start—so you can finish running the race of life as a winner.  

Find answers to many questions about the Bible at

Monday, July 13, 2015

In the Line of Fire

A couple of men were in the wilderness when they found out someone had set a fire that was out of control. The winds whipped the flames toward them and they knew they could not outrun the fire. It looked like there was no way to escape and they would surely die.

One of the men prayed for wisdom. Then he pulled out a match and set the grass in front of him on fire. 
The other man said, “You fool! Now we’re surrounded by fire!”
The man said, “We won’t die. Wait until this fire burns down and then step over here on the burned-down place.”
“I still don’t understand what you are doing.”
“The burned-down grass is a safe place for us,” he explained. “You see, the fire cannot come where the fire has already been.”

The fire of God’s judgment fell on Jesus when He died for your sins on the cross. If you want to be safe from God’s judgment, you must stand where the fire has already fallen—for the fire cannot come where the fire has already been. Jesus has already paid for your sins, and when you receive Him as Lord, you will be safe on the Day of Judgment. The fire cannot touch those who stand with Him.

Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174

Monday, July 6, 2015

When the Light Turns Green and Cars Don't Move

A number of years ago my friend Max Wilkins had stopped at a traffic light and was waiting for it to change. An elderly woman with a walker started hobbling across the street in front of his car just before the light turned green. The driver behind Max couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t go with the green light, so he started honking his horn.

As Max continued to wait for her, the man behind him stuck his head out the window and started yelling. Max got out of his car and walked back to the angry driver. He stuck out his keys and said, “If you want to run over her, then go ahead!”

By this time the hothead could clearly see the elderly lady inching her way across the street. He finally realized what kept Max from moving forward. Max could see something that the other driver couldn’t.

When we’ve prayed and are waiting for the answer to come, we can’t understand why God isn’t moving forward. From our perspective we see a green light. So we start honking our horn at God, never realizing He can see things that we can’t.

The Lord will often delay the answers to our prayers for reasons we don’t fully understand at the moment. It’s during these times that we must place our trust in the all-wise God who cares for us and knows what He’s doing—even when it might not make sense to us.

Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174