Sunday, December 27, 2020

Whatever Unites Also Divides

Did you know that whatever unites also divides? If I asked everyone in a crowded room with blue eyes to stand up, it would unite the blue-eyed people, but it would also divide them from everyone else.
 
Some people think unity should be our primary goal, but that’s incorrect. Believing the truth is more important than unity. Adrian Rogers said, “It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie.”
 
Jesus caused division wherever He went. “So there arose a division in the multitude because of Him” (John 7:43). He said, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three” (Luke 12:51-52). When people united with Him, it divided them from family members who didn’t believe in Him.
 
Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matt. 12:30). The division continued as the apostles preached the gospel. “The people of the city were divided; and some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles” (Acts 14:4).
 
You can choose which side you’re on. You can stand with Jesus, or you can side with those who hate Him because you’re afraid of their peer pressure. One day all God’s people will be united in heaven—and it’s because we followed the truth.
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Sunday, December 20, 2020

Jesus 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 to take a look?"
"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. It hobbled 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 the leg of his pants, 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."
 
God became a man 2,000 years ago to experience all the pain we go through as humans. Jesus felt the sting of rejection, the pull of temptation, the pressure of stress, the ache of loneliness, and the pains of going hungry. Hebrews 2:17-18 says, "He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest." Hebrews 4:15 adds, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses." This means Jesus feels your pain as you are experiencing it and knows how you feel.
 
Are you going through a difficult time? One reason Jesus came to earth was because He knew you would need someone who feels your pain. Everything that you're going through, He's already been through in some way. And that’s why He’s a merciful Savior.
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Sunday, December 13, 2020

Jesus Came to Explain God

Author Max Lucado was a missionary to Brazil before he became a writer. In his book Just Like Jesus, Max said he sometimes served as a translator for an English speaker. When the guest speaker stood before the audience, Max stood right next to him. His job was to convey to the Brazilians what the speaker was saying. When the speaker gestured, Max made the same gesture. When the speaker raised his voice, Max also raised his voice. When the speaker got quiet, Max got quiet.
 
One reason Jesus left heaven and came to earth was to “translate” God to us. Jesus didn’t do anything unless He saw His Father doing it (John 5:19). When the Father got louder, Jesus got louder. When the Father gestured, Jesus also gestured. This is why Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) and “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
 
Jesus demonstrated how to act like God in every circumstance. When people hated Him, He loved them. When they falsely accused Him, He didn’t try defend himself but was silent. He showed us how to forgive by actually forgiving the ones killing Him. The disciples could understand whatever He taught because they watched Him do what He was teaching them.
 
Do you remember those “What Would Jesus Do” bracelets? Not too many people are wearing them now, but the saying still holds true. Ask yourself, “What would Jesus do in my situation?” And then let Him translate though you.
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Sunday, December 6, 2020

Where God Guides, God Provides

After I graduated from seminary, God led my wife and me to plant a church in Kansas. For a number of years we searched for property to build a church, all to no avail. One day I prayed, “Lord, Walmart had no problem acquiring land for their building. Where is the land for your church? Please show us where it is.”
Immediately “Eighth Street” popped into my mind. I went to a realtor in our church and asked him to find out if any property was for sale on Eighth Street.
 
A few days later, a member of our church told me, “Pastor, I dreamed last night that our new church was built on the south end of Eighth Street, on the west side.” I was shocked to hear him say “Eighth Street” because no one in the church other than the realtor knew we were looking there.
 
The next day, the realtor told me, “I found 25 acres of land on Eighth Street that just became available this week. People have been trying to buy this property for years but it hasn’t been for sale until now. It’s on the south end of Eighth Street on the west side.”
 
The property was the Eighth Street location the man had seen in his dream! He had no way of knowing we were looking on Eighth Street or that this property had just been put up for sale. God made it clear this was His will through three confirmations: 1) God spoke Eighth Street as the location 2) The open door—the property was put up for sale that week 3) the man’s dream confirmed the exact spot. The picture on the left is Cornerstone Church as it looks today.
 
During all the years we searched for land to build on, this property wasn’t for sale. But the day it went on the market, the Lord immediately told us where it was. We purchased the property at a bargain price and were able to construct the Cornerstone Church building debt-free. "Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass" (1 Thess. 5:24) . 
Over 270 printable Bible studies at www.makinglifecount.net
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NEW BIBLE STUDY “How did the coin get in the fish’s mouth?
 
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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Just Seconds Away From Death

Jakob is an international businessman from Austria. In the 1990s, he flew to Belize to scuba dive. Although Jakob is an experienced diver, he wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen. He was not a Christian at the time, although he had narrowly escaped death on two previous occasions. Both times he prayed for God to save him, but then quickly explained away the idea of divine intervention and went back to living as he had previously.
 
Scuba divers are taught to descend underwater in pairs because if one diver gets into trouble, the other can rescue him. Jakob and his scuba partner descended to 130 feet. After a short time of exploring, his air tank ran out of oxygen!
 
Immediately he looked around for his diving buddy, who wasn’t anywhere to be found. They had gotten separated and now Jakob was trapped deep below without an air supply. His lungs would burst if he tried to ascend to the surface due to the difference in pressure. He frantically prayed, “God, please save me and I’ll give my life to you!”
 
At the moment his prayer ended, an unknown diver appeared out of nowhere! What were the odds of that? Jakob made a sign to him, using his hand as if cutting his throat, which signaled to the other diver he was out of air. The unknown diver put his regulator in Jakob’s mouth so he could use the oxygen from his tank. They slowly ascended to the surface, taking turns breathing oxygen through the stranger’s tank.
 
When Jakob climbed into the boat, he broke down crying. He had explained away the other two miraculous escapes from death, but now he knew only God could have sent an unknown diver to rescue him at just the right time. Jakob has been living for the Lord ever since.  
 
Romans 10:13 says, “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” But it’s not just saying the right words that brings salvation. It’s genuinely calling on God from your heart.
(Note: Jakob attends a Bible study with my brother and shared his experience concerning his salvation)
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Sunday, November 22, 2020

Would You Trade Places With a King?

King Solomon was the richest man in the world at his time
(1 Kings 10:23). Would you like to trade places with him? He didn’t have electricity, television, the Internet, a cell phone, air-conditioning or heating. But you do.
 
Solomon didn’t have ovens, stoves, slow-cookers, microwave ovens, refrigerators, freezers, hot and cold running water, toilets, or purified water. But you do.
 
He had to ride a donkey or camel on dusty roads. He didn’t have a car that could drive 70 mph on paved highways, or listen to his favorite music as he drove, or have a GPS to guide him to his destination. But you do.
 
King Solomon didn’t have a grocery store filled with hundreds of choices of canned food, frozen foods, boxed cereals, bottled drinks, or pastries. But you do.
 
The king didn’t have hospitals, dentists, optometrists, glasses, chiropractors, hearing aids, or medicines to treat nearly every illness imaginable. But you do.
 
Solomon didn’t have a variety of restaurants serving American food, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, fast food, or buffets. But you do.
 
He didn’t have the entertainment like today—golf, football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, movies or video games. But you do.
 
Perhaps you now understand that you live with far more luxuries than kings did in ages past. So, do you still want to change places? Probably not. But Solomon might love to change places with you!
 
Thankfulness is directly tied to your perspective, and you cannot be thankful until you actually look for and see the good things that you’ve taken for granted. “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).
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Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Scales of Injustice?

Now that the election is over, there have been many accusations of voter fraud. Was there massive cheating? God knows if there was, or if there wasn’t. But what if there was massive voter fraud and the cheaters get away with it? God knows how to deal with those who unjustly tip the scales.
 
Proverbs 11:1 says, "A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight." In biblical times, some merchants would cheat their customers by using two sets of weights when weighing merchandise. They placed lighter stones on their scales when they were selling so they could sell a lesser quantity for a stated price. Then, when they were buying from someone, they used heavier stones so they could obtain more than the stated price.
 
They could cheat their customers without them knowing it, but they couldn't hide their sleazy tricks from God because He called it “an abomination.” An abomination is something that is disgusting and intolerable to God, but the Lord was pleased when merchants used “a just weight,” meaning they were fair and just in their dealings.
 
When people cheat, they fail to realize God is watching and will punish them. Those who falsely balance the scales will suffer harmful repercussions for their actions. Proverbs 20:17 says, “Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel." At first the bread tastes sweet, but then it becomes as unpleasant as eating gravel. Even if it seems like they’re getting away with it, they will one day answer to God for their abominable deeds.
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Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Only Way to Defeat Fear

Are you afraid
about the uncertainty going on in our country? King David tells us how to get rid of fear.

After David killed Goliath, Saul became jealous of David and constantly tried to kill him. David knew he would be recognized anywhere in Israel, so he fled to Gath, hoping to live inconspicuously among the Philistines. He knew Saul would never look for him there.

Goliath was from the city of Gath (1 Sam. 17:4), and it didn’t take long for the servants of king Achish to recognize David. They even knew about the song the women sang after his victory over Goliath, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (see 1 Sam. 18:7 and 21:11). David was terrified when he heard the king’s servants talking about seizing him. “Now David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath” (1 Sam. 21:12).

Later, David wrote Psalm 56 about his experience when the Philistines captured him in Gath. In Psalm 56:3-4, he tells us how he overcame his fear. He said, When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You … In God I have put my trust. I shall not be afraid.” David knew fear can only be defeated by replacing it with trust in God. He said, “I sought the Lord and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4). 

To “put” means to transfer something from one place to another. When you put gasoline into your car, you transfer the fuel from the gas pump to your tank. So when you put your trust in the Lord, you stop trusting in yourself and transfer your trust completely to Him. How will you know if you trust Him? Your fear will leave and you will have peace in your heart.

PRAYER: “Lord, you know that I’m afraid. I choose right now to put my trust in you. I trust you to guide me and provide for me. I will not be afraid because I believe you are in control and I trust you completely.”

For more about overcoming fear, read The Sure Cure for Worry.

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Sunday, November 1, 2020

What is the Purpose of Fasting?

Fasting is choosing to go without eating for a period of time.
Matthew 4:2 says, “And after He (Jesus) had fasted for forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry” (Matt. 4:2). I love to eat, and it’s hard for me to fast 40 minutes without becoming hungry! The Bible talks a lot about fasting, but it doesn’t specifically tell us WHY we need to fast.
 
So what is the purpose of fasting? If you don’t know why you are doing something, it won’t be long before you quit doing it. Prayer and fasting often go together. I believe fasting shows God how desperately we want Him to answer our prayers. Fasting is not something that I enjoy doing, but some situations are so important that my desire to see God answer my request is more important than eating that day.
 
In Matthew 17:14-21, the disciples couldn’t cast a demon out of a boy. Jesus commanded the demon to leave the boy, and it immediately came out. He then said, “This kind (of demon) does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:21). Evidently, fasting increases the effectiveness of our prayers.
 
I ask you to FAST and PRAY for the election on Tuesday. Ask God to foil the attempts at voter fraud. Pray for our nation to turn to God in repentance. Pray that God will have His way in the outcome of this election.
 
Whoever is elected, whether it’s Trump or Biden, will have to deal with the ticking time bomb of over $27,000,000,000,000 of debt That’s 27 trillion dollars of government overspending since 1970. This by itself could instigate an economic depression. That’s another big reason to pray for our country.
 
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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Some Things Will Not Happen Unless You Pray

James
was a new believer and a member of our church. One day he told me he had the same nightmare every night for eight years. Eight years earlier, when he was a professional bodyguard, he fought and killed a man who tried to attack the client he was guarding.
 
After this incident, James dreamed about fighting this man every night for eight years. Every night it took him until at least 1 a.m. before he could fall asleep. I asked him if I could pray for God to set him free from his nightmares. He said yes.
 
As I prayed for his nightmare to leave in Jesus’ name, he said, “I’m getting an excruciating headache.” Then he said, “I just felt something leave me.Immediately his head quit hurting. He became sleepy and went home to go to bed at 4 p.m. For the first time in eight years, he slept peacefully all night without dreaming of killing the man—and he never again had a problem with insomnia. This happened over a decade ago and his nightmare has never returned!
 
A counselor, who was also a member our church, heard about his recurring nightmare leaving through prayer. He told me, “We spend years counseling people who have recurring nightmares and can’t cure them.” Jesus said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
 
Many things will not happen unless we pray for them to happen. Otherwise, why bother praying? What if I hadn't prayed for his nightmare to leave? He might still be having that terrible dream even to this day.

Prayer is the privilege God has given us where we can appeal to Him to intervene in our situations. I am asking you to FAST and PRAY for God to foil the attempts at voter fraud and He will have His way in the outcome of this election. VOTE for the candidates that uphold biblical values.
Click here to compare WHERE BIDEN & TRUMP STAND ON THE ISSUES
Click here to compare WHERE CANDIDATES IN YOUR STATE STAND ON ISSUES
 
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Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Future of Our Nation is at Stake

This might be the most important election of our country since 1864, when Abraham Lincoln defeated the Democratic nominee George McClellan. If Lincoln had lost, slavery would have continued and the country would have been torn apart.
 
Do not base your vote on who is the “most likeable.” Vote on the ISSUES.
These two presidential candidates will take the country in two completely different directions. This election will determine if our country will continue in freedom as it was founded, or if our country will turn in the opposite direction and become a socialist nation, where the government takes control of nearly every area of our lives. Some people say the United States would become like Venezuela.
 
Click here to compare WHERE BIDEN & TRUMP STAND ON THE ISSUES
 
Click here to compare WHERE CANDIDATES IN YOUR STATE STAND ON ISSUES
 
As a Christian who believes the Bible, I will vote for those candidates who make decisions based on the values in the Bible. I’ve known people who claim to believe the Bible, but vote for candidates who make decisions that go completely against the Bible. I have to wonder if those voters really do believe what they claim to believe.
 
This election will determine the future world of our children and grandchildren. VOTE for the candidates that uphold biblical values. Pray that God will foil the attempts of voter fraud and that He will have His way in the outcome of this election.
Over 270 printable Bible studies at www.makinglifecount.net
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Sunday, October 11, 2020

It's Easy to Drift From God

Every summer when I was a kid, our family would travel to Florida to go to the beach for a week. One day, I climbed on my inflatable raft and closed my eyes. The gentle waves rocked me like a baby, and I didn’t realize the current was pulling me out to sea.
 
Then a wave splashed me in the face. When I looked up, I was shocked to discover I had drifted so far away I could barely see the shore. The current pulled me away so gradually that I didn’t notice it was happening. I floated away because I wasn’t paying attention.
 
We drift away from God the same way. We quit paying attention to Him, and little by little we move away. The writer of Hebrews warns, “For this reason, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1).
 
When we quit talking with God and reading His Word each day, it’s inevitable that we’ll gradually drift away from Him. It happens so slowly it’s almost unnoticeable. Then something happens that upsets the raft and when we look up, we see how far away we are. 
 
When I realized how far I was from shore, I didn’t get back to the beach by drifting there. I had to swim against the current and paddle my way back. To return to God, you must make an effort to get close to the Lord again. Seek His face. Talk to Him throughout the day. Meditate on His Word. Make sure you are in Christian fellowship. Before you know it, you’ll be back at the shore.
 
Over 270 printable Bible studies at www.makinglifecount.net
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BIBLE STUDY: How did Peter’s shadow and Paul’s handkerchiefs heal people?
 
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Sunday, October 4, 2020

God's Word Will Not Return Void

A missionary told me this story:
A Christian man named Kendal (not his real name), was traveling on a train with some gospel literature to distribute in China. He couldn’t make his connections and was concerned about getting caught with it. It’s illegal in China to have that literature and he could go to prison.
 
He prayed for wisdom and felt led to go back to the train’s bathroom, which had a hole in the floor. He dropped the papers through the hole, which fell on the train tracks. Kendal felt terrible about throwing away the gospel papers and wondered if he had denied Jesus.
 
Two years later, he was back in China and speaking in an underground church. He told the people how he had smuggled in the gospel literature and dropped it down a hole in the floor of the train. Just then a man jumped up and said, “If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be a Christian! One day I was walking and found some papers about Jesus on the railroad tracks. I read them and accepted Jesus into my life.”
 
God had led him to put those papers down the hole to accomplish His will.  Isaiah 55:10-11 says, For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth… so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth. It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
 
When I was in college, I shared the gospel with another student, who didn’t seem interested in what I said. Thirty years later, he wrote me saying he remembered what I had said to him and that he became a Christian! Let this be a word of encouragement whenever you share the gospel with someone and don’t see immediate results. God’s Word will not return void but will accomplish what God desires.
Over 270 printable Bible studies at www.makinglifecount.net
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BIBLE STUDY: “Do People in Heaven Know What’s Happening on Earth?”
 
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