Sunday, December 30, 2018

How to Handle Criticism


The Pharisees kept trying to find fault with Jesus even though He was sinless. “And the scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely …in order that they might find reason to accuse Him” (Luke 6:7). If Jesus couldn’t escape criticism, neither will you. Do you know any of these critics?

Perfectionist Pete. Quick on the flaw. No one can ever reach his unattainable expectations, including himself.
Sarcastic Sally. Cuts others down by using snide remarks to make herself look better.
Teasing Tom. Makes jabs by joking. Rips others apart under the guise of humor. Excuses himself by saying, “Can’t you take a joke?”
Gossiping Gilda. Talks about people behind their backs but not to their faces. Exaggerates others’ faults and shows no mercy.
Angry Allen. An “in-your-face” guy. His anger boils over and reprimands you face-to-face, not caring how it devastates you.
Preying Pauline. Exposes others’ faults through prayer requests. “We need to pray for Marlene. I think she might be pregnant and doesn’t know who the father is.”
Jealous Jane. Feels threatened by others and points out their imperfections to make her rivals look ugly.

How can we handle being criticized? The same way Jesus did. He only sought to please His Father and ignored His critics. Paul said, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10). Seek to please God more than people and the sting of criticism won’t bother you. www.makinglifecount.net
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BIBLE STUDY: Resolving Conflicts

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Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Blind Girl Couldn't See the Toys


At Christmastime in 1897, a newspaper reporter in Boston saw three little girls standing in front of a store window full of toys. One of them was blind. He overheard the other two trying to describe the toys to their blind friend. The reporter said he never thought of how difficult it would be to explain what something looks like to someone who is blind. He wrote a story about the three girls for his newspaper.

Two weeks later, the reporter attended a gospel meeting conducted by Dwight L. Moody. He wanted to write a critical article attacking the evangelist. To the reporter’s surprise, Moody quoted from his newspaper article about the three girls at the toy store window.

Moody said, “Just as the blind girl couldn’t visualize the toys, so an unsaved person can’t see Jesus Christ in His glory.” Moody preached that God opens the eyes of anyone who acknowledges his sin and accepts Christ by faith. The newsman was touched by Moody’s words and realized he was a blind man who needed his eyes opened. That day he accepted Jesus as his Lord.

People who are in darkness cannot see. “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel” (2 Cor. 4:3-4). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness (John 8:12). Everyone is like that reporter and only Jesus can open our spiritual eyes. Have your eyes been opened? If so, you’ll see God and live your life differently. www.makinglifecount.net 
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Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, December 16, 2018

How Could the Bethlehem Star Stop Over a House?


We all know the Christmas story about the wise men from the east following the star to Bethlehem. "And lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was . . . and they came into the house and saw the Child" (Matt. 2:,9,11). Was this a literal star that they followed? Let's think about that.

How could a literal star go before them and stop over a house? The heat from a star would have burned up the house, not to mention the entire planet. Some people think the star was millions of miles away and it just looked like it was over the house from the wise men's vantage point. However, if the wise men had walked around to the back door instead of the front door, the star would have been behind them and not over the house. The star must have been something else.

Many Bible scholars believe it was a supernatural phenomenon—that God created what looked like a star to lead them to the Messiah. He did something similar to this in the Old Testament when He led the children of Israel through the wilderness by cloud and by fire. "The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night" (Ex. 13:21). 

Others believe the star may have been a brilliant angel that led them to the house. Angels are also called stars in Scripture (See Rev. 1:20, 9:1, 12:4,7-9, Job 38:7, Isa. 14:12). Since a host of angels appeared to the Jewish shepherds to announce where the child would be found (Luke 2:11-12), God may have used an angel to lead these Gentiles from a foreign country to find Him. This would explain how the star moved and knew where to stop at the correct location.

By the way, the wise men didn’t come to the manger on the night He was born but sometime later. When they arrived, Joseph and Mary had moved into a house (Matt. 2:11). But don’t get upset when you see the wise men depicted in a manger scene display. It’s not a theological problem and the manger scene reminds us that Jesus came for both Jews and Gentiles.  www.makinglifecount.net  www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com
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Making Life Count Ministries
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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Parable of Two Christmas Trees


Syndicated columnist Mike Royko once wrote about a poor couple shopping for a Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve they went to a tree lot that was about to close. They couldn’t afford a nice tree so they asked if the owner would sell them two of the worst looking trees for $3. He agreed to the nominal price for the sad pair of sparse spruce.

On Christmas Day the tree lot owner walked by the couple's apartment and saw a beautifully decorated tree through the window. Overcome by curiosity, he knocked on the door to find out what happened, and then learned “the secret.” The couple explained how they took the two trees and tied them together with wire. Each had one very bare side, but when merged together they created a full tree.

Reflecting on his wife who had died six years earlier, Royko finished the column with these words: “So that’s the secret. You take two trees that aren’t perfect, that have flaws…that maybe nobody else would want. But if you put them together just right, you can come up with something really beautiful. Like two people, I guess.” (One More Time, Mike Royko, 2000, p.185).

This is a picture of God’s intent for marriage where “the two shall become one flesh” (Mark 10:8). Two flawed people can make a better couple, not by arguing about their differences but by combining the best qualities of both people. Kind of like two Christmas trees, I guess.
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Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Learning to Swim


When I was a kid I took swimming lessons at the neighborhood pool. The easy part was when I grabbed on to the side of the pool while someone held me up as I learned how to kick. Then came the hard part--learning how to float.

It was hard for me to believe that the water would hold me up without any effort of my own. I would try to float, but then my feet would immediately drop down so I could stand up. I didn’t fool anyone when I did that awkward “half swim” where I walked along the bottom of the pool while moving my arms like I was swimming.

The instructor kept telling me to trust him—that the water really would hold me up if I would just relax. But that was the problem. I couldn’t relax when I thought I was going to drown. Then one day, and I quit trying to float and just went limp. To my surprise I didn’t sink. For the first time in my life I floated—without any effort on my part. When I totally surrendered to the water and quit struggling, the water held me up.

That’s how we learn to trust God. Inwardly we go limp. We quit trying to trust Him and submit to His complete control. In absolute surrender, we say, “Lord, I’m totally depending on you to come through for me.” David continually put his trust in God and relaxed:
“I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever” (Ps. 52:8).
“In God I have put my trust” (Ps.56:4)
“In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid” (Ps. 56:11).
“My soul trusts in You” (Ps. 57:1)
“Trust in Him at all times, you people” (Ps. 62:8)
David learned how to float by relaxing and placing his complete trust in God rather than himself. And we must do the same. www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Everyone is Placing a Bet


The lottery just reached $1 billion and millions of people are betting they’ll win. And everyone on the planet is placing a bet as to whether or not the Bible is true. You’re not betting with money but with your eternal soul. Jesus said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (Mark 8:36). You will either be right or wrong. Before you place your bet, you’d be wise to carefully examine some evidence you weren’t taught in school.

The evidence the Bible is true is found in the many predictions about the future that it makes, which have come to pass. Hundreds of Bible prophecies that have been fulfilled is irrefutable proof the Bible is true. Jesus fulfilled more than 300 prophecies. The probability of one man fulfilling just 48 prophecies is one in 10 to the 157th power. That’s enough proof to place your bet.

But what about evolution? You’re betting that life arose from non-life and that all life on earth arose from a molecule from a “primordial soup.” You’re betting that every elephant and every ant, every fish and every bird, every person and every gnat, every tree and every blade of grass in the entire world came from this one molecule. Scientists have purposely tried to create life in a laboratory to prove that life arose accidentally with no intelligence involved! They’ve never done it.

Consider the complexity of the human body. For example, how can evolution produce an eye? The body has 206 bones, 600 muscles, respiratory system, and circulatory system, which are all coordinated to work together. Each part is useless without being coordinated with the other parts. Take away the brain and it doesn’t work. Take away the heart or the lungs and it doesn’t work. All the parts of the human body had to come together at the same time. Evolution can’t explain this.

The complex design of the human body had to come from an Intelligent Designer. Your computer has many complex parts that work together as a unit, and you know an intelligent person designed and coordinated each part so that it can function. The same can be said for the human body.

This isn’t hard to figure out. Which makes more sense? I’m betting my soul that the Bible and everything Jesus taught about the afterlife is true. I hope you’ll make the right choice. www.makinglifecount.net
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BIBLE STUDY  Was Judas a believer?

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Making Life Count Ministries
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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, October 14, 2018

You Can't Change Your Past, But...


Wouldn’t you like to have a time machine so you could travel back in time to change some things in your past? You may have done some things that you'd like to undo. But the past doesn't exist anymore except in your memory. You can’t change your past but here are three things that can change.

1. You can’t change what you did in your past…but you can be cleansed of what you did. Jesus died for all your sins, not just some of them. If you’ll receive Jesus as your Lord and ask His forgiveness, He says, "I will remember their sins no more" (Heb. 8:12). If He doesn’t remember them anymore, then neither should you.

2. You can’t change the consequences of your past…but you can trust God to use your past as His testimony. God “works all things after the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11). Paul persecuted and murdered Christians before he was converted (Acts 8:1,3, 26:10) but God used his tainted past as a testimony of His mercy. People said, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy” (Gal. 1:23).

3. You cannot change anything in your past…but you can change everything about your future. Your life is a book that you’re writing. The past is gone so you can’t go back in time to rewrite it. But the future hasn’t happened yet and you can choose the ending of the book. You might have had a bad start but you can write a good ending. Your book isn’t finished. Start writing that great ending right now. www.makinglifecount.net 
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Making Life Count Ministries
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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Getting Out of the Rut


The picture on your left show ruts formed by wagons in the 1800s on the Oregon Trail. When the rut first started it was shallow. But the more it was traveled on, the deeper the ruts became—and the harder it was to get out of it. It has been said that years ago a sign on the road said, “Avoid this rut or you will be in it for the next 25 miles.” Even so, it was possible to get out of the rut if they were determined to do it.

When we keep doing the same things over and over, we start developing a rut. There’s nothing wrong with doing the same daily routine if we’re faithfully doing God’s will. But the problem comes when God calls us to make a major change and do something entirely different. It might be changing your career, getting married, moving to another city or making a life-changing decision.

Sometimes God places His blessing outside of your comfort zone and then asks you to come get it. To get something that you’ve never had before, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done before. You’ll probably make a number of major changes in your life, but don’t do it without considering these things:

1. Make sure God is leading you. Don’t make a major change unless you’ve prayed about it and have God’s peace in your heart. God promises to lead you on the right path. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).

2. Count the cost before you do it. Jesus said, “For which of you, when he wants to build a tower does not first sit down and count the cost to see if he has enough to finish it?” (Luke 14:28) Every decision is an exchange—you’re giving up one thing to get something else. When you get married, you give up single life for married life. If you don’t count the cost before making the decision, you won’t stick with it.

3. Trust God to give you the power to make the change.  A wagon can only get out of the rut by being jolted out of it. You can’t do it in your own power, but you can get out of any rut through the power of the Holy Spirit. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). 

Once you've done these things, then move forward and don't look back. Looking back will only make you doubt your decision. www.makinglifecount.net   
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Making Life Count Ministries
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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Little Things Are Actually Big Things


Jesus told us little things are actually big things. He said, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). Sometimes God will give us something small as a test to see how trustworthy we’ll be in handling it.

Martha Berry founded a school for needy children in 1902. She once asked Henry Ford (owner of the Ford Motor Company) for a million dollars to help her school. He didn’t donate the huge amount she requested, but gave her a dime. Instead of being insulted, she accepted the dime and bought peanuts for her school children to plant.

They harvested the peanuts and used it to plant a larger field. Eventually they harvested enough peanuts to buy a piano for their music students. Martha wrote a letter to Mr. Ford telling him how they had used his dime to grow enough peanuts to buy a piano. Ford was so impressed by her faithfulness with the dime that he gave her school a million dollars! (Making Today Count for Eternity, p.149).

Don’t gripe about your insignificant job or the small amount of money you handle. God's watching to see what you’ll do with it. “For who has despised the day of small things…they are the eyes of the Lord which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth” (Zech. 4:10).

Martha died in 1942 and never saw the future of her little school, which is now Berry College in Georgia. You may never see on earth what your faithfulness will produce in the future. But if you’ll faithfully manage your little things on earth, the Lord promises to give you something really big in heaven. www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Saturday, September 15, 2018

God Always Has Perfect Timing


Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham, was a newly licensed pilot and was flying from Vero Beach, Florida to Longview, Texas. He met with bad weather over Mobile, Alabama and air traffic controllers told him to fly north toward Jackson, Mississippi in order to avoid the approaching storm.

As he rose above the clouds, the instrument panel lights flickered. A minute later the radio and instruments went dead; then all the lights went out. Franklin realized he was in a desperate situation so he prayed for God to intervene.

He dropped below the clouds hoping to see the ground. When he spotted the distant lights of Jackson, he headed for the airport's rotating beacon. He circled the control tower and since he didn't have any electrical power, lowered the landing gear manually. At that moment, the runway's emergency landing lights came on and he landed.

As soon as he was on the ground, the lights went off. “That's odd,” he thought, “at least they could have waited until I taxied to the ramp.” After he got out of the plane, a man from the tower asked, "Who gave you permission to land?" No one in the tower had seen the small plane circling overhead. 

Why would the lights be turned on if they hadn't seen him? They “just happened” to be turned on by an air traffic controller who was explaining to his visiting pastor what he would do in case a plane ever attempted to land without radio communications! At the exact moment when Franklin needed the lights, the controller turned them on without knowing the plane was there. (Franklin Graham, "When the Lights Went On,” Dimensions for Living, 1992).

God’s timing is always perfect. The ram was caught in the thicket at the exact moment Abraham was about to offer up Isaac (Gen. 22). The fish with a coin in its mouth bit on Peter’s hook at the right time so he could pay the temple tax (Matt. 17). Mary arrived in Bethlehem at the right time to give birth to Jesus and fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:2.

Maybe you’ve been praying for something for a long time and nothing has happened—yet. God knows the exact time when He will answer. Since His timing probably isn’t the same as yours, remove the deadline you’ve placed on Him. Be patient and keep trusting God even though you don’t know when it will happen. www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Football's Strangest Play in 1929


One of the strangest plays in college football occurred in the 1929 Rose Bowl. Roy Riegels, a University of California football player, picked up a fumble by Georgia Tech and started running toward the end zone. He raced 65 yards down the field until he was finally tackled on the 1-yard line—by his own teammate!

Why did a player on his own team tackle him? Riegels got confused after picking up the fumble and ran in the wrong direction. He was the only one in the stadium who didn’t know he was running to the wrong goal. He heard the cheers of the crowd but didn’t realize they were coming from the fans of the other team. CLICK HERE to see a video of the play.

Riegels ran in a way that seemed right to him. Imagine his embarrassment when he realized he ran to the wrong goal. But Roy’s mistake is a teachable moment for us. Everyone is running toward a goal, whether it’s right or wrong.
Many people are going to be embarrassed on Judgment Day when they realize they ran to the wrong goal. They spent their life living for themselves instead of God. "There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death" (Prov. 14:12).

The goal of life is to love God will all our hearts and to please Him in all we do. "We have as our ambition ... to be pleasing to Him" (2 Cor. 5:9). So if you've been running in the wrong direction, don't get upset if someone on your own team tackles you. They're just trying to keep you from making a big mistake. www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Going the Second Mile


Jesus said, "Whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two" (Matt. 5:41). He was referring to the law where a Roman soldier could compel any Jew to carry his backpack for one mile. The pack weighed 66 pounds and if you refused to carry it you would be flogged.

Imagine being on your way to your destination when a Roman soldier orders you to carry his 66-pound pack. It would be hard to carry it for one mile but now Jesus tells you to carry it an extra mile. So now you must carry it two miles and then walk two miles back to your original starting point, which now makes four miles. (Remember, you're not driving a car.)

After carrying it for a mile the soldier says, "You can put it down now." You reply, "I’d like to carry it for another mile." The soldier says, "Why would you want to do that?" You answer, "Jesus told me to do this for you." Now you have an opportunity to share your faith with this Roman soldier as you walk that extra mile. By going above and beyond your expected duty, his heart opens to what you have to say. There's no telling how many Roman soldiers became Christians during that second mile.

We don't carry packs for soldiers anymore, so what does the second mile look like today? It’s doing more than what’s expected at your job, at home, and everything you do. When husbands and wives argue and fight, their hearts can become closed toward each other. But when they go out of their way to bless their spouse, their hearts open up to each other. Going the extra mile at your job might get you a promotion, but your motivation for doing extra is not to get credit. It's to please God.

Remember, it’s not the first mile where miracles occur. It’s the second mile.

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Making Life Count Ministries
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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Faith That Moves God


God is looking for a certain kind of faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6). Here are three components in faith that please God.

#1 PERSISTENCE  Four men carried a paralyzed man on a pallet for Jesus to heal. Jesus was teaching in a home but the men couldn’t get near to door because of the crowd. Most people would have turned around and said, “I guess it wasn’t God’s will to heal him.” Instead, they climbed on the house, tore a hole in the roof and lowered the man down in front of Jesus. 

Luke 5:20 says, “Jesus saw their faith…” Their faith was manifested by their persistence. Jesus forgave the man’s sins and healed him.

#2 INSIGHT  A Roman centurion had a servant who was sick to the point of death. Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” The soldier said, “Just say the word and my servant will be healed.” He knew that Jesus could simply say “be healed” and it would happen. Jesus replied, “I have not found such great faith in all of Israel” (Luke 7:9). He had insight into God’s ability and power that others in Israel didn’t have. His servant was healed at the same time Jesus spoke.

#3 EXPECTANCY  Peter and John went to the temple to pray. A man who had been lame from birth was begging by the temple gate and was “expecting to receive something from them” (Acts 3:5). The man was healed because of his expectancy.

So let’s put these things together.
God wants us to keep persisting in spite of obstacles. “Pray at all times and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1)
God wants us to understand His power to do the impossible. “With God nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37)
God wants us to expect Him to answer our prayers.  “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive and you shall have them.” (Mark 11:24)

And then you’ll have faith that pleases God and moves Him to respond.
READ THE SERMON HERE Jesus Heals the Paralyzed Man

www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com  www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett