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Post  Admin on Thu 13 Aug 2020, 8:16 pm

USE OF HUMOR IN MINISTRY
 
Have you ever noticed how much humor ministers use in their sermons and publishable articles? A humorous story or anecdote at the start of a sermon relaxes the listeners and makes them receptive to the Christian message. A funny comment helps to draw back attention at key points throughout a sermon. Laughter helps us to bond with others as we join in a chuckle at our common human condition.

If we share laughter with another, we never forget the occasion or the shared experience. I can remember satisfying laughter as my grandfather used to tell stories of farm life and the antics of my mother and her brothers. I can remember laughter at holidays, at births, even at funerals as the balm of shared humor enhanced or relieved a situation. I can remember scenes with relatives and friends from many, many years ago because laughter was shared.
 
Appropriate laughter at appropriate times is truly curative and joyful. Of course, there are times, places, and materials when boisterous humor and frivolity are not appropriate, but the joyful laughter that reveals gladness of heart, shared relationship, common understandings, and genuine humor is indeed freeing and fulfilling. As Ecclesiastes 3:4 points out, there is “a time to laugh.”
 
Gentle laughter is the perfect antidote for depression and somber mind states. If you know someone who needs a smile, a cheerful word, or a quiet chuckle, be sure to share from the wealth of your spiritual riches with that friend. You’ll both be the better for it!

…..Mary-Ellen Grisham (eternallyours8@yahoo.com) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Thu 13 Aug 2020, 8:15 pm

CONSEQUENCES OF UNBELIEF

Several children and some adults in North America have recently suffered from measles. Parents, who don’t believe scientific studies proving vaccination does not cause autism, refuse to have their children vaccinated. Thus, measles has made a comeback. Some folks in the world do not believe there ever was a holocaust, thus causing emotional pain to those who survived the ordeal. Others refuse to believe man ever stepped foot on the moon, holding on to the fallacy that the whole moon adventure was a staged Hollywood style event. There have always been those who believe and those who don’t, no matter the subject, but perhaps the unbelief with the most dire consequence is unbelief in the Word of God.
 
Matthew 13:58 is an example of the consequences of unbelief: “Now He (Jesus) did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”
 
Jesus was back in Nazareth preaching in the local synagogue. Many were astonished when they heard Him speak and saw Him heal a withered arm and a bent back. Was He not the carpenter who had grown up in their midst? Instead of believing, they were offended and wanted to get rid of Him. From that day to this, there are many who do not believe. They say God’s Word has been written by men and is not infallible truth. They don’t believe in the virgin birth, or in the resurrection of Jesus. They don’t believe that accepting Christ as Savior and Lord is the only way to the Father. Instead, they believe God’s Word was written for a people thousands of years ago; and that as we are an enlightened generation, it doesn’t apply to us.
 
Are we delaying the work of the Lord because of our unbelief? When we pray and ask God to intervene in any given situation, do we really believe He will or are we just repeating empty words? Do we believe God’s promises are spoken in truth and love and that He will keep His word? Do we really believe we are forgiven and loved by a heavenly Father who created the universe? Speaking to Thomas, Jesus said, “Do not be unbelieving but believing.”(John 0:27b) “Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Matt.21:22) “Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (John 6:47)
 
The last statement of Jesus above should give us cause for thought. The consequence of not believing means eternal separation from God. God loves us so much He wants us to be with Him forever. Therefore, He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sin and by believing the truth of His Word we will know we have eternal life. His Word is faithful and true. He desires to do great works among us, to answer our prayers in miraculous ways. Believe it!
 
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
 
…..Pat Earl (brian.earl@sympatico.ca) by way of Kim Quiggle (cupocheer316@yahoo.com) and “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Wed 05 Aug 2020, 10:18 pm

 

Unclaimed Inheritance

 
   
   
 
"I have said to you, 'You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.' I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples." – Leviticus 20:24 NKJV

Government agencies in the United States recently reported that they are holding more than $60 billion in unclaimed property and missing money. In fact, California alone was holding nearly $5 billion in unclaimed property.
These funds have accumulated through unreported changes of address, name changes after marriages or divorces, clerical errors, and other situations. Funds include unclaimed tax refunds, benefit checks from Social Security, mortgage refunds, pension benefits, and bank accounts.
Year after year, these funds continue to accumulate. Yet millions of men and women are not even aware that this money exists and that the government is holding money for them. They just need to claim it.
In a similar way, many Christians have not claimed the inheritance God has prepared for them. We see this when God told His people that they would inherit “a land flowing with milk and honey.” But they had to take action. They would not receive their inheritance unless they took possession of the land. Many did. But some did not.
Today, realize that God has prepared untold blessings for you. But you need to “possess the land” to claim your full inheritance. Don’t be ignorant of how much God desires to bless you. And don’t be content with less than all God has prepared for you. As you read His Word, realize that all of His promises are true for you right now.

Prayer

Father, thank You for the inheritance that You have prepared for me. I claim these blessings! Help me receive all this inheritance. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Extended Reading

Leviticus 20
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Post  Admin on Mon 03 Aug 2020, 8:52 pm

***********************************************

 
LIVING STONES
 
And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual
temple. What's more, you are his holy priests. Through the
mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.
1 Peter 2:5
 
There is a famous story about a Spartan king who was boasting to a visitor about the walls of Sparta. The visitor looked around, however, and could not see any walls. "You see, in Sparta, every man is a brick," the Spartan king told his guest, pointing to his army. "These are the walls of Sparta."
 





When it comes to the church, every believer is a brick. And we are described in the Bible as living stones: "And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple . . ." (1 Peter 2:5).
 
We should not be spectators in the church; we should be participants. It is easy to play armchair quarterback. But it is another thing altogether to be down on the field with the team. And that is where God wants each of us to be.
 
President Theodore Roosevelt said, "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming. . . ."
 
It is easy to stand back and criticize, but the credit goes to the man or woman who goes out and does the work of God's kingdom. Maybe they make a mistake here. Maybe they don't get it right there. But I would rather try and make a mistake than never try at all.
 
As each part of the body of Christ does its special work, it helps the entire body. The key is every one of us doing our part.
 
…..as seen in Devotions with Greg Laurie by way of Kim Quiggle (clowndisciple@gmail.com) and “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Tue 28 Jul 2020, 9:59 pm

THOUGHT PROVOKING
 
FINDING SUPERNATURAL PATIENCE
AS YOU WAIT ON GOD

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.  …..Colossians 1:9-12.

Some of the greatest missionaries in the history of our faith were firmly devoted to spreading the seed of God’s Word, and yet had to wait long periods before seeing the fruit of their efforts.

William Carey, for example, labored 7 years before the first Hindu convert was brought to Christ. In western Africa, it was 14 years after the first missionary came before one convert was received into the Christian church. In New Zealand, it took 9 years; and in Tahiti, it was 16 years before the first harvest of souls began.
 
Thomas à Kempis described that kind of patience in these words:
 
“He deserves not the name of patient who is only willing to suffer as much as he thinks proper, and for whom he pleases. The truly patient man asks nothing) from whom he suffers, (whether) he accepts it all as from the hand of God, and counts it gain!”
 
It’s one thing to wait begrudgingly for God’s timing. It’s another to truly show supernatural patience—being joyful and anticipating God to come through in a big way. So when God calls you to wait, remember you’re in good company and trust in Him with joy and eager expectation!
 
Prayer Challenge
 
Pray and ask God to give you supernatural patience as you wait for His perfect timing!
 
…..as seen in Daily Living For Seniors by way of Kim Quiggle (clowndisciple@gmail.com) and “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)


**************************************************************************
         The young do not know enough to be prudent, and they attempt
the impossible -- and achieve it, generation after generation.
…..Pearl S. Buck


INSPIRATION
 
DON'T IGNORE THE WARNINGS

"A West Virginia State Trooper stopped a woman for going 15 miles over the speed limit. After he handed her a ticket, she asked him, "Don't you give out warnings?"

"Yes, ma'am," he replied. "They're all up and down the road. They say, 'Speed Limit 55.'" (from Readers Digest, "All In a Day's Work", by Patricia Greenlee)

This story reminds me that one day we will stand before the great Judge. There are many people who expect they will receive merely a "warning" and then they will be given an opportunity to try again. The response on that day will be, "I gave out plenty of warnings -- all through your life -- but you ignored them all."

Remember the rich man in Luke 16 who died and went to Hades? He begged for a messenger to be sent back as a warning to his brothers. The response he got was this:   "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them....If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead." (Luke 16:29,31)

The warnings are there, all over the road. If we ignore the warnings and live the way we want to live rather than for the glory of God, then we shouldn't be surprised when the punishment is issued on the Last Day.

The warnings are there -- listen and heed them.

Have a great day!
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Post  Admin on Sat 18 Jul 2020, 8:29 pm

 
FEAR OF SUCCESS
 
Jesus came and told his disciples, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18–20
 
One reason we don't evangelize is because of a fear of failure. We don't want to tell someone about Jesus and have them shut us down or blow us off or laugh in our face. But I think there is another reason we don't evangelize: fear of success. Why? We don't know what we would do then. Now what?
 
It reminds me of when I went fishing years ago with my friend Franklin Graham and caught a bunch of fish. That was the good part. I had never cleaned fish before, so I asked Franklin if he would clean them for me.
 
"No," he said. "Clean your own fish."





 
"I have never really done it," I told him.
 
"So . . . time to learn."
 
I had to cut the fish open and clean out the fish. The fun part was catching them. But then I had to actually clean them.
 
We want to go out and tell others about Jesus. But if they believe, are we ready to take the next step? It means taking that person who has accepted Christ under our wing, getting him on his feet spiritually, and showing him an example of what a Christian looks like. And guess what? Then we do it again. That is fulfilling the Great Commission.
 
Jesus said, "Make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always . . ." (Matthew 28:19–20). That is our job. Every one of us is called to seek to win people to Christ and then disciple them. And then we are to do it again and again and again.
 
…..as seen in Devotions with Greg Laurie by way of Kim Quiggle (clowndisciple@gmail.com) and “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Mon 06 Jul 2020, 11:50 pm

INSPIRATION
 
ATTITUDE OF ENCOURAGEMENT
 
Let's begin to minister with a secure attitude of encouragement.
 
EVERYONE needs encouragement. No matter how secure and confident someone may appear, everyone needs to be reassured, built up, and comforted. And we are all called to minister to one another, every day, with encouragement; "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today" (Hebrews 3:13). Therefore, we are all called to meet one another's need for encouragement.
True encouragement requires us to be "others" oriented: "Consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4). We will never effectively encourage until we begin to look outside our own needs and intentionally examine the needs of others. And our encouragement of others will always be hindered unless we are genuinely excited by the new growth and health we see in others.
 
1 Thessalonians 2:11-12
"For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His Kingdom and glory."
 
I was excited when each of my children learned to roll over, and I cheered when they began to crawl. When they started to walk I clapped my hands and beamed with pride, as if my kids were the first in the world to ever move about on two feet. Each small accomplishment was encouraged...and my manhood was never threatened by their progress. I wasn't worried about losing my position within the family, and I had no desire to be the only walker in the house. Every time my children fell, I picked them up and encouraged them with full confidence of their future success.
 
Our journey with the Lord actually begins long before our day of Salvation as He calls us and draws us to the cross; we would never even seek if He did not first call and soften our heart. This part of the journey (the part which leads us to His secure arms of Salvation) may last MANY years and require encouragement from many different people. But as we place our faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin and continue our journey (with all the many hills and valleys), our walk is definitely much easier and enjoyable if we join with others and walk together.
 
Let's encourage one another with each wonderful step toward Heavenly glory. Let's be proud and excited for the accomplishments of others no matter how great or small. And let's refuse to become threatened when we witness others mature and grow - we are absolutely secure in the love of God (and we really don't want to be the only walker in His Family!). Let's turn our hearts outward and begin to minister with a compassionate, loving, and secure attitude of encouragement.
 
Have a Christ Centered Day!
 
…..Steve Troxel (God's Daily Word Ministries) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Wed 17 Jun 2020, 11:25 pm

CONSTRUCTION ANGELS

Jim Howell and his son David were in the midst of a construction project, building a 12 by 16 foot utility barn in Jim's back yard, in a country area in northeast Ohio. "I am not in construction," Jim says, "but David, then 20, was working with an Amish construction crew that summer." Both men had built such items through the years, and were at ease around lumber and ladders.

Jim was putting the finishing touches on the peaked roof, leaning over the edge of an old wooden stepladder. "I was a little too high," Jim admits. “And my reaching over and pushing on the peak caused the ladder to go out from under me." The ladder fell, and landed on its sides, which gave way, breaking into large jagged pieces. Jim came crashing down on top of the pile.

David watched, open-mouthed. "He thought I was a goner," Jim admits, without an inch to spare, and he was perfectly fine. Shaken, he crawled out of the broken ladder and looked at it. It was then that he noticed how odd his fall had been.

"If I had landed a little to one side or the other, I would have fallen on the broken wood frame and been injured, perhaps fractured some bones," Jim says. "Two or three inches in either direction and I would have been impaled." But somehow, completely out of control, Jim had fallen onto the only safe spot that existed.

For years Jim has taken a bit of quiet time each morning, to ask God to be with him, and to make known His will, so Jim can better serve Him. And he believes there was some force that guided him directly between those two rungs. "I think God sent an Angel to look after me that day," Jim says. "I know that God does for me what I cannot do for myself." And sometimes sends His angels to do the same.

…..Copyright 2013 by Joan Wester Anderson (http://www.joanwanderson.com) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net) Published by Joan Wester Anderson, P.O. Box 127, Prospect Heights, IL 60070. For more stories of God's love, check the blog at Joan’s website.

*************************************************************************
INSPIRATION

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRAY FOR

"And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years" Acts 13:21

One of my friends said it yesterday. I had heard it before. I have said it before. "You had better be careful what you ask for (in prayer), you might get it."

Indeed, that is exactly what happened to Israel. All the other nations had kings. Israel had an old prophet. All the other countries had national leaders. Israel had a high priest. Israel asked the aging prophet for a king. They wanted to be like other nations. They wanted a figure they could look to for protection. They wanted a king. (If you remember, Moses said this time would come. He prophesied that they would want a king. He also said that king would lead them in wrong paths.)

So God gave them a king. Saul. He reigned for forty years. He was an
imposing figure, head and shoulders taller than his countrymen. He was strong. He was promoted to king of all Israel -- and he was a failure

As time passed, Israel began to see that their king was just a man with all of man's weaknesses. He may have been strong as an ox, but he was as weak as a hollow tree in spirit. He lacked the mental strength to be a powerful leader. He became overwhelmed with his own authority -- his own ambition. And he fell. And he almost took Israel with him.

We have all been in Israel's position. We want what we want and we want it now! Not only do we want it, but we demand that God provide it. We don't want to wait for it. We don't want to pay the price for it. We don't want to save for it. We want it -- NOW! And God had better come through because if He doesn't we will do it ourselves.

And we pay the price. And that price is much higher than the cost of the thing we want. It is a spiritual price that goes far beyond a few dollars. It saps the soul of strength. It drains the spirit of energy. It taps the resources we have reserved for God's mission, and we suffer for it. We are in pain. We are weakened. Because of our weakness, others begin to suffer with us. We no longer have the spiritual fortitude to help our brother or our sister. Instead we are pulling from them the strength they need for their own battles.

A downward spiral has begun. The trail of smoke can be seen for miles around. Doom and defeat seem eminent. But wait. Inside that hulk of a dying body is a pilot -- no, The Pilot. He has not bailed out yet. He has not given up the ship. He is pulling. He is fighting the battle for us. And He has the strength to pull us out of that fatal nose dive we have forced upon ourselves. At the last moment, the flaming hulk of our life is saved and set on a path to recovery. Not because of our strength, but because of the authority of the One who knows how to save the dying.

Israel had his David. We have our Jesus. Both are redeemers. David saved a dying nation. Jesus saves a dying soul. Behold, your redemption draws near. Hallelujah, Amen and Amen.

…..The Daily Encourager (dlangerfeld@harrisburgbaptist.org) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)mple-member-who-said-abortion-law-violates-her-satanic-beliefs/
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Post  Admin on Wed 03 Jun 2020, 5:34 pm

This life is so full of beautiful moments. All you have to do is open your eyes and your heart to see them. I saw one just the other day. The local elementary school had just let out and I found myself behind a school bus as I was driving home. The bus stopped by a house sitting on top of a hill. A little girl no more than 7 years old hopped down the bus steps and started running up the driveway toward the house. The smile on her face was contagious. Her long hair was bouncing off her shoulders and her pink backpack was trailing behind her as she ran. I looked up the hill to see where she was going and saw her Dad waiting on her. As she got closer and closer her Dad smiled and knelt down to greet her. The second she got to him he wrapped his powerful arms around her and gave her a huge hug.

My eyes watered a bit as I watched this scene and remembered all the times my own children had ran into my arms with smiling faces and loving hearts. Every single hug from them was a fountain of youth and a treasure of joy.

My lovely trip down memory lane was interrupted when I heard the car behind me honk its horn. I saw the school bus quickly pulling away and started to follow it again. I did so, however, with a fuller heart and lighter spirit than I had before. I took that beautiful moment and stored it safely in my soul where I knew it would remain forever.

One day we all will leave this school of learning and love and finally get to go home again. I know that when it is my time that I will sprint from that bus and right into my Heavenly Father’s arms. I know that my smile will be bright and my heart will be light. Enjoy your day here at school then. Teach, love, and learn. But know that one day you will be going home to where the hugs are eternal and the love never ends.

…..Joseph J. Mazzella (Joemazzella@frontier.com) by way of “Christian Voices” (Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Sun 31 May 2020, 11:27 pm

God's Thermal of Encouragement
Many of us have experienced that low Spiritual valley where we thought the sun would never shine again. Some were sent quickly into the valley by a very specific event; others drifted slowly to the bottom and can't say by what path they arrived. In either case, we wandered in this gloom until something began to lift us to new heights.

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Isaiah 40:29-31
If we find ourself back in the valley today, we must continue to seek Him with all our heart and trust that our thermal is on the way. He has promised to strengthen us and cause us to soar once again! And if we're currently flying high in our communion with God, we must give praise and honor to our Heavenly Father; but we must also recognize there are many others in the valley who desperately need a lift - many who are searching and feeling overcome with darkness. As we soar, we must understand that we are never called to fly alone.
God has chosen to use people to accomplish much of His work on earth. He could have chosen other methods; "If they {the people} keep quiet, the stones will cry out" (Luke 19:40), but He chose us. We are to "encourage one another daily" (Hebrews 3:13). Why? Because there is a valley full of people waiting and hoping for that rising current to lift them up and set them free. We can be a rising current for others with simple words or acts of encouragement which show them God's love and gently lead them back toward His peace.
We have been adopted into the "Family" of God...and our Family needs each other very much! Let's dedicate ourselves to soaring high by worshipping God in absolutely every area of our life. Let's continue to rise to new heights and always look for others in need of God's thermal of encouragement!
…..Steve Troxel (God's Daily Word Ministries) by way of The Daily Encourager and “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Sun 31 May 2020, 11:19 pm

THOUGHT PROVOKING

REVERANCE

The God we serve is a spiritual being both deserving and desirous of our deepest respect...
 
Though described in Scripture as a friend to man (Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23), He is not some sort of "good buddy" to joke with or about.
 
Our God is still on the throne (Psalm 45:6), His ways remain higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9), and His authoritative Word still promises to judge us in the Last Day (Revelation 20:12).
 
No measure of self-appointed, flippant familiarity with the God of heaven detracts one bit or whit from His inherent majesty.  Our God is eminently worthy of our reverence, this we must serve Him "acceptably with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28). Truly, reverence is the "very first element of religion."
 
Moreover, our periods of public worship should express this spirit of reverence.  "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all about Him" (Psalm 89:7). Worship performed "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24) suggests a demeanor or awe and reverence.
 
We agree that our worship services should be permeated with expressions of joy and thanksgiving - they should not come to resemble a congregational visit to the dentist; but neither should the reverent worship of our heavenly Father be confused for a carnival or rock concert.  Whether our worship is that offered
during a Sunday morning service, that which involves a lectureship assembly, or that which is engaged in by a zealous throng of your people attending a youth rally - regardless where, when or by whom the worship is performed - it must be characterized by reverence and decorum.  "Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40).
 
The worship assembly is not the proper setting for screaming, whistling, clapping, and stomping the feet in response to a speaker's message.  We do not gather to pay homage to men, but to worship God.  We do not come together as a football game or a stage-band concert, we come to worship God.  We do not assemble with the intent of being entertained or sensually excited; we come to worship God.  Any assembly of saints with the intent of worshipping and praising the God of heaven should reject that which emphasizes the carnal emotions and minimizes the spiritual man.  An outsider should be able to attend one of our Sunday assemblies, or one of our many youth gatherings, and see a marked difference between the worship of God and the Jay Leno show.
 
In the realm of worship, "zeal without knowledge" paves a dangerous road toward pagan, flesh-oriented, and riotous assemblies.  Most of our denominational neighbors have long gone this route, with services geared more toward entertaining man than worshipping God.  May we learn to temper our joy in Christ with a Christ-like reverence for things holy.  And may we teach our children so.
 
…..as seen in KneEmail by way of Cup O’Cheer (cheer316@sc.rr.com) and “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Tue 26 May 2020, 8:46 pm

MY CUP OVERFLOWS... WITH STUFF
 
I am the type of person who can't say "No." If somebody is sick or something else comes up and the person can't fulfill their volunteer position at our church, it is my name that comes to mind. If a pot of soup is needed for a luncheon, or a dessert is needed for coffee hour after the service, just call me, and I will be happy to oblige. If you need a ride to church, or a Scripture reader, or someone to assist the pastor or help serve communion, I am there to help out. It's a good thing that I am retired and am able to do these things. It seems that I am busier now than when I was working!
 
Don't get me wrong. I love doing these volunteer jobs, and it seems that God provides me with the energy and the strength to fulfill all of these volunteer obligations.
Sometimes, I feel that things do get out of hand, and my plate overflows! But there are just too many volunteer jobs to be filled and not enough helpers. Knowing that, I usually cave in and accept to help out.
 
There is a saying that God never gives us more than we can handle and that with His grace, we can overcome all obstacles. We can do nothing of ourselves, but with God, all things are possible.
 
1 Corinthians 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (NASB)
 
The other day as I was thinking about all the various responsibilities and jobs that need to be done within a church, I wondered why it is that some people do multiple jobs while others do nothing. Is it that some people, like me, are too quick to volunteer, and others hold back? Or is it that some people wait to be asked first, while others are more forward? I imagined that if most of us did one little volunteer job, the load would be so much easier. Instead of a few volunteer jobs falling onto the plate of one or two people, these duties could be shared among more people.
 
May each and every one of us, as we are able, help out within our individual congregations to lighten someone else's load.
 
…..Rosemary Hagedorn, Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada by way of Cup O'Cheer(cheer316@sc.rr.com) and “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
 
*****************************************************************

 
Grandma's Hands
 
Grandma, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. She didn't move, just sat with her head down staring at her hands.
When I sat down beside her she didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if she was OK.
Finally, not really wanting to disturb her but wanting to check on her at the same time, I asked her if she was OK. She raised her head and looked at me and smiled. 'Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking,' she said in a clear voice strong.
'I didn't mean to disturb you, grandma, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,' I explained to her. 'Have you ever looked at your hands,' she asked. 'I mean really looked at your hands?'
 
I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making.
 
Grandma smiled and related this story: 'Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life.'They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child, my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They held my husband and wiped my tears when he went off to war. 'They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special.
They wrote my letters to him and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse.
They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer.
'These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of life. But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of God.
I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my grandma's hands and led her home. When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and husband I think of grandma. I know she has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God.
I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.
…..Tim’s Inspiraation (timsinspiration@yahoo.com) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)                       
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Post  Admin on Fri 22 May 2020, 9:07 pm

THOUGHT PROVOKING
 
 
MY CUP OVERFLOWS... WITH STUFF
 
I am the type of person who can't say "No." If somebody is sick or something else comes up and the person can't fulfill their volunteer position at our church, it is my name that comes to mind. If a pot of soup is needed for a luncheon, or a dessert is needed for coffee hour after the service, just call me, and I will be happy to oblige. If you need a ride to church, or a Scripture reader, or someone to assist the pastor or help serve communion, I am there to help out. It's a good thing that I am retired and am able to do these things. It seems that I am busier now than when I was working!
 
Don't get me wrong. I love doing these volunteer jobs, and it seems that God provides me with the energy and the strength to fulfill all of these volunteer obligations.

Sometimes, I feel that things do get out of hand, and my plate overflows! But there are just too many volunteer jobs to be filled and not enough helpers. Knowing that, I usually cave in and accept to help out.
 
There is a saying that God never gives us more than we can handle and that with His grace, we can overcome all obstacles. We can do nothing of ourselves, but with God, all things are possible.
 
1 Corinthians 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (NASB)
 
The other day as I was thinking about all the various responsibilities and jobs that need to be done within a church, I wondered why it is that some people do multiple jobs while others do nothing. Is it that some people, like me, are too quick to volunteer, and others hold back? Or is it that some people wait to be asked first, while others are more forward? I imagined that if most of us did one little volunteer job, the load would be so much easier. Instead of a few volunteer jobs falling onto the plate of one or two people, these duties could be shared among more people.
 
May each and every one of us, as we are able, help out within our individual congregations to lighten someone else's load.
 
…..Rosemary Hagedorn, Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada by way of Cup O'Cheer(cheer316@sc.rr.com) and “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Fri 22 May 2020, 9:05 pm

INSPIRATION
 
Grandma's Hands
 
Grandma, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. She didn't move, just sat with her head down staring at her hands.

When I sat down beside her she didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if she was OK.

Finally, not really wanting to disturb her but wanting to check on her at the same time, I asked her if she was OK. She raised her head and looked at me and smiled. 'Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking,' she said in a clear voice strong.

'I didn't mean to disturb you, grandma, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,' I explained to her. 'Have you ever looked at your hands,' she asked. 'I mean really looked at your hands?'
 
I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making.
 
Grandma smiled and related this story: 'Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life.'They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child, my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They held my husband and wiped my tears when he went off to war. 'They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special.

They wrote my letters to him and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse.

They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer.

'These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of life. But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of God.

I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my grandma's hands and led her home. When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and husband I think of grandma. I know she has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God.

I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.

…..Tim’s Inspiraation (timsinspiration@yahoo.com) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Wed 13 May 2020, 8:43 pm

THE FIRST FLOWER OF SPRING

I smiled when I saw the first flower of Spring the other day. A lone Blue Bonnet had popped its head through the ground and was looking around on a cool, April morning. I wasn’t sure what had made it finally decide to end its long, Winter’s sleep. Perhaps it had noticed that the ground around it was no longer frozen. Perhaps it had felt the warmth of the sunshine finally pushing the temperatures into the seventies. Perhaps it had heard the songs of the birds singing that Spring had arrived and it was time for the world to awaken again. Perhaps the roots of the trees had whispered to it that it was now safe to come out and that their own limbs were already budding.

Whatever the reason it was a joy to see the little guy soaking up the light and calling out to its fellow flowers to join in the celebration of life once again. I know that soon it will be joined by other Blue Bonnets, Buttercups, Tulips, Daffodils, and Dandelions. I know that soon the air will be full of Butterflies dancing above them all. I know that soon the meadows will be full of growing grass and the forested hills will be awash in bright, green leaves. I know that soon the bloom even when the world around us is cold, dark, and harsh. We have the ability to share our beauty in the face of ugliness, our joy in the face of fear, and our love in the face of hate. We have the ability to make every day feel like the first day of Spring.

May you bloom well then today and always. May you shine your light. May you share your love. May you be truly alive in the glory of God’s creation. And may you forever make your Heavenly Father smile.

….. Joseph J. Mazzella (joemazzella@frontier.com) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)         
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Post  Admin on Fri 01 May 2020, 1:31 pm

THOUGHT PROVOKING

WHAT AN AWESOME AND ORDERLY GOD!
 
For example:
the eggs of the potato bug hatch in 7 days;
those of the canary in 14 days;
those of the barnyard hen in 21 days. 
The eggs of ducks and geese hatch in 28 days; 
those of the mallard in 35 days. 
The eggs of the parrot and the ostrich hatch in 42 days. 
(Notice, they are all divisible by seven, the number of days in a week!)

God's wisdom is seen in the making of an elephant. The four legs of this great beast all bend forward in the same direction. No other quadrupeds so made. God planned that this animal would have a huge body, too large to live on two legs. For this reason He gave it four fulcrums so that it can rise from the ground easily. 
 
The horse rises from the ground on its two front legs first. A cow rises from the ground with its two hind legs first.  How wise the Lord is in all His works of creation!
 
God's wisdom is revealed in His arrangement of sections and segments, as well as in the number of grains. Each watermelon has an even number of stripes on the rind.  Each orange has an even number of segments.   Each ear of corn has an even number of rows.  Each stalk of wheat has an even number of grains. 
 
Every bunch of bananas has on its lowest row an even number of bananas, and each row decreases by one, so that one row has an even number and the next row an odd number. 
 
The waves of the sea roll in on shore twenty-six to the minute in all kinds of weather. 
 
All grains are found in even numbers on the stalks, and the Lord specified thirty fold, sixty fold, and a hundredfold - all even numbers.
 
God has caused the flowers to blossom at certain specified times during the day, so that Linnaeus, the great botanist, once said that if he had a conservatory containing the right kind of soil, moisture and temperature, he could tell the time of day or night by the flowers that were open and those that were closed!
 
Thus the Lord in His wonderful grace can arrange the life that is entrusted to His care in such a way that it will carry out His purposes and plans, and will be fragrant with His presence.
 
Only the God-planned safe life is successful.  Only the life given over to the care of the Lord is fulfilled

.......Author unknown by way of Cup O’Cheer (cupocheer316@yahoo.com) and “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)

*****************************************************************************************************

INSPIRATION

SING A NEW SONG

Sing to God a brand-new song, sing his praises all over the world! Let the
sea and its fish give a round of applause, with all the far-flung islands joining
in. Let the desert and its camps raise a tune, calling the Kedar nomads to join in. Let the villagers in Sela round up a choir and perform from the tops of the mountains. Make God’s glory resound; echo his praises from coast to coast. God steps out like he means business. You can see he’s primed for action. He shouts, announcing his arrival; he takes charge a and his enemies fall into line. (Isaiah 42:10-16, MSG)
 
A few years back my wife and I attended our 50th high school reunion. It was a time to reminisce and greet old friends that we hadn’t seen in quite a while. The food was great, the company greater and oh, how we laughed and laughed. The DJ played the songs of our era and even though we could not dance as we once did, we still made the rounds of the floor. And oh, those songs brought back many memories that we shared around the table and caused us to miss the ones who could not be with us.

One of the highlights was for the classmates was to sing the school fight song. This is the school we graduated from and sang the song at every victory of our teams, and yet, a vast majority of us
could not remember the words to the song. It was a little embarrassing as we read the words from the screen before us as we sang the song.

How many of you can sing your school fight song? If you remember the song, does it have any mention of the best player on the team? How about the coach of any of the sports teams from your school? Did your fight song have any mention of anyone who influenced you while you attended that school?

Psalm 40:3 says, “He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God.”

Music is an important part of our lives. You think about all the places and things we do that have music. It is a way of expression. It can be a means of escape. Music reflects our mood and it can also affect our mood.

Few things in life touch the heart as well as music. And music for many represents what you believe, what’s important to you, what you identify with, what resonates with who you are. Think about it. If the majority of the songs you listen to talk about getting drunk and wasted, then I’m going to bet that’s a temptation for you. If the music you listen to is filled with sexual innuendos and bold vulgarity, then I’m probably going to say that inside that’s the kind of person you really are. If what you listen to talks about faith, trusting in God, praising God, and living for God, then I’m gonna guess that you are a ... Believer, a Christ-follower, someone who cares about God.

The kind of music we love says a lot about who we are. Why do we sing on Sundays? Why do we play music? Hopefully the music we sing expresses what we believe and what we feel about God.

The Bible teaches us to sing a "New Song" to the Lord. What this is basically saying is that our praise should be fresh and new because God's mercy is new every morning and He is still working in the lives of those who follow in faith and obedience.

…..Edd Wilder (revedd@comcast.net) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Tue 21 Apr 2020, 11:36 pm

THOUGHT PROVOKING
 
A BROKEN SPIRIT

I have heard that there is a monastery in Greece perched high on a cliff, several hundred feet in the air. The only way to reach the monastery is to be suspended in a basket which is pulled to the top by several monks who pull and tug with all their strength. Obviously the ride up the steep cliff in that basket is terrifying.

One tourist got exceedingly nervous about half-way up as he noticed that the rope by which he was suspended was old and frayed. With a trembling voice he asked the monk who was riding with him in the basket how often they changed the rope.

The monk thought for a moment and answered serenely: "Whenever it breaks."

We are shocked that someone would wait that long before changing the rope. It only makes sense that the rope ought to be changed long before reaching that point. But it dawned on me that God operates the same way in our lives. If we were to ask God when He will change our lives, His answer might well be, "Whenever you break!"

You see, our lives can only change once we have what the Bible refers to as a "broken spirit". As long as we remain arrogant and determined to do things our way, God can't shape us and mold us. Like a wild stallion, we remain useless until we are "broken".

  "The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit." (Psa. 34:18)

Father, I so often want to stubbornly do things my way. Help me as I strive to have a broken spirit, recognizing my shortcomings, humbly willing to listen to Your instruction. In Jesus' name, amen.

Have a great day!

…..Alan Smith by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)


God’s New Work?
 
Change is in the air! Two well loved, Bible preaching pastors in local churches, have resigned their pulpits. Congregational profiles will be filed out and examined. The work of the church will be reviewed. What has been done well? What needs to be different? Are old ways and traditions to be maintained, or is there need to modernize ways of thinking, of doing ministry? When change comes to churches, there is much to consider, much to pray and seek God about, vital decisions to be made. Perhaps in such times, God is calling us to look at what we are doing, to study His word and learn from examples of the early church and above all, to determine to do things His way.
 
With the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the first church began. God sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and everything changed. Timid fearful disciples suddenly became bold and fearless preachers. The gospel of Jesus Christ was proclaimed and “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47) Thousands of hearts were touched and lives were turned upside down. All seemed to be going well, but God had other plans. Persecution arose, James was killed, and the new believers were forced to flee to other territories. Again, as folk traveled, so too did the Word. Many more in the ancient world were added to the faith. As we study the stories in Acts and read Paul’s letters, we see this happening again and again. Teaching, conversions, persecution, and dispersion - growth.
 
How do churches today line up? When change comes, do we hunker down, batten the hatches and hope we can maintain the status quo? Can we keep on keeping on or is God trying to tell us something? Are we in church learning and growing so we can go out and share our good news with those who don’t know Jesus? Are we inviting them in? Christ did say “Go and tell.” (Matt.28:19) Are we so inward looking we forget to look outward? How long has it been since a ‘new convert’ came through the church doors?

Let’s pray for an infilling of the Holy Spirit. May He light the fire in our hearts, to give us a burning compassion for the lost and a willingness to love with word and action. Change is part of God’s marvelous plan; and if we step fearless out in faith, He will woo hearts by the power of the Spirit and add to our churches those who are being saved.

…..Pat Earl (brian.earl@sympatico.ca) by way of “Christian Voices” Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)


 
INSPIRATION
 
SECOND CHANCES
 
I was in fifth grade and about to take a science test. Since first grade I had always been good at school. I loved to read and remembered things easily. Simple math was a breeze for me and I always did well on tests. When it came to fifth grade science, however, I was struggling. I couldn’t seem to understand it no matter how hard I tried. I was scared. Mom and Dad had always been so proud of my good grades and I didn’t want to let them down. Just before the test then I had written several of the answers on my desk top in barely legible pencil. I sat nervously as the teacher started to hand out the tests. I didn’t want to get caught, but I didn’t want to fail either.
 
As the teacher was starting down my row suddenly the fire alarm went off. It was an unscheduled fire drill. We all headed out the door and stood together waiting for the all clear signal. As I stood outside in the warm sunshine I realized what a fool I had been. I knew my Mom and Dad would be proud of me and love me no matter what my grades were. As soon as we were allowed back in I spit on my hand, walked to my desk, and wiped the answers away. I had been given a second chance and I wasn’t going to waste it. I took the test, did my best, and felt at peace. I don’t remember what my grade was but what happened that day has stayed in my heart and mind ever since.
 
I am not sure why God gave me a second chance that day. It wouldn’t be the last time, though.
 
God has given me more second, third, and fourth chances than any man deserves. His patience and love have been with me through all the mistakes, stumbles, and falls I have made. His second chances have allowed me to grow into the person I am today.
 
Life is full of second chances but you have to be willing to take them. You have to be willing to ask God’s forgiveness and begin again. You have to be willing to release your mistakes and grasp your inner goodness. You have to be willing to give up your fear and just love. Every day when you wake up you are given a second chance at life. Embrace it! Cherish it! And use it wisely!
 
…..Joseph J. Mazzella (joemazzella@frontier.com) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Wed 15 Apr 2020, 12:35 pm

THOUGHT PROVOKING

THE SIMPLICITY OF THE GOSPEL

         For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.  1 Corinthians 1:21
  
I have traveled all around the world and have preached in every kind of venue imaginable, yet I never cease to be amazed by the power of the gospel. Regardless of how educated or how illiterate people are, no matter how wealthy or how poor they are, whatever their circumstances, the gospel always connects.
 
People have sometimes come away from a Harvest Crusade commenting on how simple my message was. But that simplicity was intentional. As I am preparing a message, I reach a point where I start clearing away the clutter so that it is as simple as it possibly can be. Why? Because I don't want anything to clutter the message of the cross of Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth, "For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). I can't emphasize this enough. The message is not Christianity; it is Jesus Christ. The message is not religion. I don't want to make people religious. I don't even want to be religious myself. In fact, if it weren't for a relationship with Jesus, I would not be a religious person. Some people love the rituals of religion. Not me. I have no interest in them whatsoever. But I have the greatest interest in having a relationship with God.
 
I once had the opportunity to ask Billy Graham, "If you knew as a younger man what you know today after preaching the gospel all of these years, what would you tell yourself that you need to do more of?"
 
He told me, "I would preach more on the cross and the blood of Christ, because that is where the power is."
 
I thought that was good advice. And I've tried to keep it.

…..as seen in Daily Devotion with Greg Laurie by way of Cup O’Cheer (clowndisciple@gmail.com) and “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)


INSPIRATION
 
FEATHERED FIDELITY
 
It's a sad reality. All relationships start with love and promise, but all too often we see them weaken, crumble and finally fail. It's too bad all relationships don't go to the birds. I know that sounds strange, but read on.
 
Many years ago, when I was just a young boy, a small yellow bird hit our front door. When I looked outside, I saw it’s tiny, unmoving body on our deck. I opened the door to see if it was just stunned, or worse, dead. I was kneeling over it when my mom joined me.
 
"Michael, I think it may be dead. I heard the bang on the glass. It hit pretty hard."
 
"Mom, should we bury it?"
 
"I'm not sure, Michael. When I first looked out I saw another bird land beside it. It looked like it was trying to pick this one up. I think we should let nature take care of this. Let's put it on the roof of the car and see what happens."
 
We placed the unmoving, little bird on the roof of my dad's car and went back into the house. From our living room window we watched as the bird's mate flew to its side, carefully grip the back of the dead bird's neck in its tiny beak, and with strength only love and devotion could provide, lifted its mate in the air. It carried the body from the car, across the street, over the meadow on the other side and into nearby trees. It flew only a few feet off the ground. Sometimes it would get up to six feet high and then the weight of its companion would pull it lower again. Its struggle was great, but the desire not to be parted from its mate was greater.

Thirty-five years later, I stepped out of my home on a warm summer morning. I looked toward my next door neighbor’s – we lived in attached townhouses – and noticed a tiny strand of a spider’s web strung strung from the bush by the corner of their townhouse to the wheel of one of their cars. I thought it was strange for a spider to spin such a web, especially just one tiny strand. I moved closer to investigate. When I reached down to break the web I discovered it wasn't a web at all. It was a piece of fishing line. I gave it a tug and saw it was tangled in the bushes, and the other end was knotted under the car. One of the boys was sitting on the front deck of the house. I remarked, "Looks like someone booby-trapped your friend's car."
 
He came closer to see what I was talking about. I gave the line a tug. It was tightly jammed under the wheel of the vehicle.
 
"Strange, it seems to go all the way under," I said.
 
I walked to the back of the car and saw a robin. It fluttered to get away, but the line, which was wrapped around its tiny leg, held it firm. The poor bird flapped around on the pavement with only a foot of line for it to move. Slowly I approached and reached to grab it. When my fingers first touched his feathers it squawked and flapped away from me. I moved faster on the second attempt and managed to get a grip around his trembling body. It squirmed and twisted its head to snap at me, but I held tight.
 
The boy came closer for a look, and then went for a knife. When he returned I realized he would probably break the poor bird's leg when the knife pulled the string tight before cutting it through, so I sent him for scissors. He came back and we carefully removed the string.
 
The bird was free, but I held him a little longer, so I could remove one last strand of the line from his tiny leg. It made a great effort and escaped from my grasp. He flew low across the pavement, under a row of mailboxes, and up into a tree. It was free again.
 
Then I noticed a second robin fly down from a nearby tree and land next to the newly-freed robin. It had stayed close by, as its mate struggled for freedom, and would not have left until freedom or death ended their relationship. The birds I witnessed mated for life and the struggles that come with it. Now don't you wish a lot more relationships would go to the birds?
 
I know I do.
 
…..Tim’s Inspiration (timlevin@gmail.com) by way of “Christian Voices (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Fri 28 Feb 2020, 6:47 pm

THOUGHT PROVOKING

LISTENING TO THE SHEPHERD
 
Author H. W. McLaughlin tells of visiting Israel and talking to an old shepherd. Thinking about Psalm 23, McLaughlin asked the shepherd how he used his staff to comfort and guide the sheep. The elderly man said that in the daylight he always carried it across his shoulders so the sheep could see it. Somehow this reassured them of his presence and protection. He further explained that if darkness overtook him before he had brought the sheep to a safe resting place for the night, or if they were caught in a heavy fog so that the sheep could not see the staff, he would walk slowly while tapping it on the ground. Although the sheep could not see the staff, they could hear its tapping, and they would follow the direction of the sound, knowing that their shepherd was just ahead of them.

God's inspired Word is to the Christian what that staff was to those sheep, reassuring us of God's presence, protection, and provision by day and by night. Sometimes we see His leading from Scripture very clearly. At other times, however, we must listen with special care to God's Spirit as He speaks to us in the Scriptures. He will reassure us that our Shepherd, though unseen, is always with us.
 
…..Henry G. Bosch, (Our Daily Bread, June 1, 1993) by way of Cup O’Cheer (cheer316kim@sc.rr.com) and “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
 
START WHERE YOU ARE
 
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon
you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all
Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."      —Acts 1:8
 
Some people want to go to other countries and be missionaries for Christ. And that is good. But how about starting with crossing the street and talking to your neighbor?
 
Some people say, "I want to be in the ministry." Guess what "the ministry" is? It is service to the Lord.
 
Jesus said, "You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). This is how it worked for the disciples, and that is how it works for us. It is a strategy for evangelism. They were to start in Jerusalem, where they were. Next came nearby Judea and Samaria, and then the rest of the world.
 
Here is what God is saying, in effect: If you want to reach the world, then start with your world. When you think of going into all of the world and preaching the gospel, that is a daunting task, isn't it? But how about this? Go into all of your world and preach the gospel.
 
I know of an interesting group of people. They are small in stature. They have a lot of energy. They have a short attention span. But they are very open to the Word of God. They are called kids. They can be found in Sunday school rooms and are in need of people to help teach them.

You might be thinking, I am looking for the big call of God. But what about doing something simple? How about just sharing Jesus when you are out and about? How about starting with people that you live near? How about starting with members of your family? How about your coworkers? How about students on your campus? That is where it starts. So just start where you are.
 
…..as seen in Daily Devotion with Greg Laurie by way of Cup O’Cheer (cheer316kim@sc.rr.com) and  “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
 
 
******************************************************************************
 
INSPIRATIONAL
 
Bird’s Eye View
Don’t you love the feeling of being ‘on top of the world’? Everything seems to be going
j-u-s-t right.  Gotta love those times. 

Yesterday when I parked at the lot on my way into the grocery store I looked up at the extraordinary blue. What a day. One of those chamber-of-commerce afternoons where the spring green of the trees met the deep clear sundrenched sky. On the highest part of a tall streetlight, a mockingbird was comfortably perched. Just checking it out, taking a rest. There he was, on top of the world.

Most days we aren’t on those mountain-peak highs, we live in the valley of life. Everyday life, the normal, the ups, the downs. Often those times are a little harder for me to like. Could be a season where you feel your world is unraveling and you are hanging by a thread, like this butterfly to the leaf. You may be barely holding on, waiting for the tide to turn. I’ve heard people voice questions, “So where was God anyway? Why did He let it happen?”, “God didn’t answer my prayers about that”.

Here is some good news: no matter what it seems like, no matter what is going on, God is still sovereign. He is still in the midst, keeping every one of His promises (something like 7,000 of them in the Bible). He’s not distant, He’s not uncaring nor uninvolved. He is a personal God, wanting the best for His children and a close relationship with them.

The Word of the Lord is truth, and here are a few verses that you can count on to help to gain a ‘bird’s eye view’ perspective:

Psalm 97:9   For you, O Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

1 Chronicles 29:11  Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
Isaiah 37:16  "O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.
Psalm 73:28  But as for me, it is good to be near God. 
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

1 Chronicles 16:31   Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; 
 let them say among the nations, "The Lord reigns!"

…..Sally Kennedy (irishthursdays@bellsouth.net) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Wed 19 Feb 2020, 2:23 pm

INSPIRATIONAL
 
YES
 
I find that the older I get the pickier I get about what I read. I just don’t want to waste hours and hours of my life reading something that isn’t going to enlighten, inspire, or entertain me. I can still remember the last time I walked into a book store at a mall. I glanced down the self-help section and was amazed at the number of books there. There were books to help you lose weight.  There were books to help you find a mate. There were books on exercising your body. There were books on exercising your mind. There were books about improving your work life. There were books about improving your sex life. There were books about making friends. There were books about making money. There were countless books taking you down countless roads all claiming to lead you to happiness. 
 
Are you going to love yourself today? Yes! Are you going to love everyone else today? Yes!
 
Once you can say yes to love then you can say yes to all the other important questions in this life. Are you going to be kind? Yes! Are you going to help others? Yes! Are you going to face life’s difficulties with a smile? Yes! Are you going to take care of your heart, soul, body, and mind? Yes! Are you going to make this world a better place? Yes! Are you going to share laughter and spread joy? Yes! Are you going to do your best to live your life so that Heaven sings and God smiles? Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
Every morning you are given a fresh start, a new beginning, and one more chance to say "Yes!" to love. Every morning you are giving another opportunity to start writing a new chapter in your own book of life. Live well then. Write well. And love well today and always.
 
.....Joseph J. Mazzella (joemazzella@frontier.com) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Mon 03 Feb 2020, 8:46 pm

INSPIRATIONAL

But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows. The Arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times like Noah’s. Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark. They knew nothing—until the flood hit and swept everything away. The Son of Man’s Arrival will be like that: Two men will be working in the field—one will be taken, one left behind; two women will be grinding at the mill—one will be taken, one left behind. So stay awake, alert. You have no idea what day your Master will show up. But you do know this: You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up. (Matthew 24:36-44, MSG)
 
When I was a young man I joined the Navy. One of the many duties that we learned in Boot Camp was the way to “stand a watch.” First we had to report at least 15 minutes before our scheduled watch. A scheduled watch was 4 hours long unless it was extreme weather. We reported to the Officer of the Deck (ODD}, whose duty was to prepare us to take over the watch. He made certain we had on the proper uniform, especially for protection from the weather. After we reported and had passed inspection, and if we were to stand a watch in the dark or near dark, we were placed into a dark area for the remaining time before we relieved the person who was presently on watch. This was so that it would be easier for us to accustom to the dark.
 
Every watch stander had a vision of 180 degrees from left to right and vice versa. The responsibility of the watch stander was to inform the officer of the deck (ODD) of any object that would come near the ship. No matter how small or how large we would inform the ODD by phone. Even a log can do serious damage to a ship at sea. Keeping watch means: to give strict attention to, to be cautious, to take heed lest some calamity overtake you.
 
Jesus tells us to keep watch and be ready. How do we get ready for coming again? Well, there is that of praying, reading the Bible, God’s Holy Word, and obeying His instructions.
 
These are very practical, real reasons to post the watch. Keep watch! I come unannounced, like a thief. You’re blessed if, awake and dressed, you’re ready for me. Too bad if you’re found running through the streets, naked and ashamed. (Revelation16:15, MSG)
 
Kind of a crazy verse, huh? But think about it. How much time do we spend primping in the morning? How much money do we spend buying the right clothes, and the right colognes, and the right “look”? And if we give all of that effort to our physical appearance, what a shame it will be if we have ignored our spiritual attire, and the King returns, and finds us naked. Exposed for what we are.
 
Will we still be praying? Will we still be attentive to God? Will the watch still be posted?
 
…..Edd Wilder (revedd@comcast.net) by way of “Christian Voices” (of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Sat 25 Jan 2020, 11:30 pm

THOUGHT PROVOKING  
 
HOW YOUR ATTITUDE CAN AFFECT EVERYTHING
 
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is
admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about
such things. - Philippians 4:8
 
Norman Cousins, a prominent writer of the 20th century, was diagnosed with a rare, crippling, and incurable disease. Tired of being in the hospital for so long and with little real hope for recovery, he checked himself out and went home. 
 
There, he began his own treatment to comfort the pain. He borrowed a movie projector and watched old Marx Brothers films and Candid Camera reruns. He soon found that after 10 minutes of good laughter, he could sleep peacefully for two hours. When the pain returned, he would simply flick the projector back on and he’d have another two hours of painless sleep.
 
Attitude matters. When you’re fighting tough battles in life and it’s hard to see a way forward, the attitude you have during the struggle will most certainly determine how it affects you. This isn’t just emotional. Your attitude can affect you both mentally and physically.
 
Whether it’s sickness, hard emotional times, or grief, find reasons to laugh. Instead of withdrawing, do something you enjoy and spend time with others who can bring you up. Be positive no matter what challenge you’re facing and you’ll be renewed both mentally and physically!
 
…..as seen in Cup O’Cheer (clowndisciple@gmail.com) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
 

Bird’s Eye View

Don’t you love the feeling of being ‘on top of the world’? Everything seems to be going j-u-s-t right. Gotta love those times.

Yesterday when I parked at the lot on my way into the grocery store I looked up at the extraordinary blue. What a day. One of those chamber-of-commerce afternoons where the spring green of the trees met the deep clear sundrenched sky. On the highest part of a tall streetlight, a mockingbird was comfortably perched. Just checking it out, taking a rest. There he was, on top of the world. 

Most days we aren’t on those mountain-peak highs, we live in the valley of life. Everyday life, the normal, the ups, the downs. Often those times are a little harder for me to like. Could be a season where you feel your world is unraveling and you are hanging by a thread, like this butterfly to the leaf. You may be barely holding on, waiting for the tide to turn. I’ve heard people voice questions, “So where was God anyway? Why did He let it happen?”, “God didn’t answer my prayers about that”.
Here is some good news: no matter what it seems like, no matter what is going on, God is still sovereign. He is still in the midst, keeping every one of His promises (something like 7,000 of them in the Bible). He’s not distant, He’s not uncaring nor uninvolved. He is a personal God, wanting the best for His children and a close relationship with them.

The Word of the Lord is truth, and here are a few verses that you can count on to help to gain a ‘bird’s eye view’ perspective:

    Psalm 97:9   For you, O Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
    1 Chronicles 29:11  Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
    Isaiah 37:16  “O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.
    Psalm 73:28  But as for me, it is good to be near God. 
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
    1 Chronicles 16:31   Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

…..©2011 Sally I. Kennedy (http://www.sallyikennedy.com) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
________________________________________________________________

GREAT-GRANDMOTHER
 
My granddaughter, Jade, had a baby girl-a beautiful, blonde-haired little bundle of sweetness who brought joy to our family and made me a great-grandmother.'
 
A couple of years later, she blessed us with another beautiful baby girl. And her husband brought with him his own blonde-haired bundle of female energy.
 
Now I was a great-grandmother to three little girls, all blonde-haired, blue-eyed sweetness. Put them all together (ages five, three, and one at this time) and you would swear they were full-blooded siblings-rather than a combination of "half's and "step"s. A fully modern family - his, hers, and theirs.
 
We don’t see them nearly often enough, since we live in Tennessee and they in Michigan. But we keep in contact via telephone and email.
 
I never thought much about being a great-grandmother. It was just another step in life. I didn't feel any different age-wise. Then one day I was chatting with my son, Jade's father, over the phone, and he was enthusiastically bragging about his grandchildren and how much fun he was having being a grandfather.
 
Wait a minute! My son? A grandfather? Oh, my Lord! My son is a grandfather! I'm the mother of a grandfather! All of a sudden I feel very old!!
 
…..Dorothy Dale (willardanddorothy@frontiernet.net) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Thu 26 Dec 2019, 1:13 am

THOUGHT PROVOKING - INSPIRATIONAL

Today is my Father's birthday. I hope you'll help me pass the word
by wishing everyone you meet today a Very Merry Christmas!

T'was the night Jesus came and all through the house,
Not a person was praying, not one in the house .
The Bible was left on the shelf without care,
For no one thought Jesus would come there.
The children were dressing to crawl into bed,
Not once ever kneeling or bowing their head..
And Mom in the rocking chair with babe on her lap,
Was watching the Late Show as I took a nap...
When out of the east there rose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter...
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and lifted the sash...
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But Angels proclaiming that Jesus was here...
The light of His face made me cover my head...
Was Jesus returning just like He'd said.
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself...
In the Book of Life which he held in his hand,
Was written the name of every saved man...
He spoke not a word as he searched for my name,
When He said "it's not here" My head hung in shame...
The people whose names had been written with love,
He gathered to take to his Father above...
With those who were ready He rose without sound,
While all of the others were left standing around ..
I fell to my knees but it was too late,
I'd waited too long and thus sealed my fate...
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight,
Oh, if only I'd known that this was the night...
In the words of this poem the meaning is clear,
The coming of Jesus is now drawing near...
There's only one life and when comes the last call,
We'll find out that the Bible was true after all.

......Tim (timsinspiration@yahoo.com) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)

Editor Note: Christ could come for His bride and church right now while you are reading this. Do not wait any longer. Accept Christ as your Lord and Savior right now! When too late – it truly is too late! If you are not already saved, don’t come this close to being His and let the opportunity for your salvation slip away. 
Where will you be when the world realizes that “the Bible was true after all”?



THE BABE OF ADVENT
 
Advent is a time when we remember a tiny babe born to a young teenage girl in a dirty stable. Sounds of cattle lowing, a donkey braying and doves cooing in the rafters filled the air. Pungent smells of animal life attacked the nostrils. Straw was the mattress for his bed. Swaddling cloths were
His blanket. An anxious carpenter stood guard. This was his family. This child, the very Son of God had been entrusted to his care.

How could this be? Yet, there was a sense of peace and a stirring of hope within the hearts of two bewildered people. Two, who chose to believe and to obey their God who loved the world so much, He sent His only Son to be its Savior. This babe, Emmanuel -- God with us, would change the world
forever. Here in a simple manger was the One spoken of by prophets of old, the One who was the fulfillment of their words.
 
"Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given
  And the government will be upon His shoulder
     And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor,
        Isaiah 9:6
 
"You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy;
  They rejoice before you according to the joy of harvest,
     As men rejoice when they divide the spoil."
        Isaiah 9:3
 
"The Redeemer will come to Zion and to those who turn from
   transgression in Jacob says the Lord." Isaiah 59:20

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin
 will conceive and bear a son and shall call His name Emmanuel."
   Isaiah 7:14
 
Jesus was God's gift of love. He came to give us His peace. He taught that we might have His joy. He died, taking our sin upon Himself, giving us hope -- Christ in you the hope of glory. Jesus, God's Son came to earth, a baby taking on the full nature of humanity. From the cradle to the cross, He walked in purposeful obedience to His heavenly Father, the greatest gift of love ever given. With thankful hearts, may we praise and worship God singing :
 
"Now to the manger let us go to worship and adore
The tender babe upon the straw, our Savior evermore.
Glory to our God we sing Glory to our Lord and King
Peace, goodwill with all abide, This holy Christmas tide."
                                                                       (Andrew L. Skoog)

…..Pat Earl (brian.earl@sympatico,ca) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net



Sorrow and Joy
 
"I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them." Jesus prays for His Disciples before His death: John 17:13 NIV
 
Even in the presence of God's great love, there is sacrifice. Even in the experience of God's great miracles, there is hardship. Certainly Mary and Joseph experienced the mixture of great joy with human problems and difficulty: the tiring road trip and the miraculous birth in a lowly stable--the joy of the wisemen's visit and the rushed trip to Egypt to avoid the execution of baby Jesus--the devoted boy Jesus "lost" in the temple at age 12--the beautiful young man, teacher and redeemer, dying on a
cruel cross--all experiences of mixed joy and pain.
 
Yet in our darkest experiences, the Holy Spirit moves to soothe our pain. Jesus walks with us understanding, comforting, helping to lift and bear the load. God knows and cares about the direction and fruition of our lives. We feel the Everlasting Arms around us in the dark of night. So many times in difficult situations, the Lord has been present in Spirit with love and comfort and Bible words of wisdom. I've experienced everything from the Holy Spirit helping with housework when I was overtired with too much to do to Jesus in spiritual presence raking leaves with me. Trials in school, hardships in marriage, tough life decisions--in all of these and more the good Lord was there.
 
Even in the blessed Sacrament of Communion we see the mixed symbolism of joy and sacrifice: Jesus' life for our salvation, God's promise of endless love requiring ours in return in the "bride cup" of grape juice, the broken bread with the spiritual significance of sacrifice in Christ's body and in the Body of the Church. We are broken for fellowship as we learn to share and relate, to prefer others over ourselves, and to sacrifice for the good of God's Kingdom.
 
The beautiful Babe, the narrow way--the love of both friend and enemy--the last being first in service and Kingdom: all paradoxes of the most special and blessed life a Christian can live, culminated at last by dying into eternal life, forever with Jesus in the new heaven and earth.
 
Merry Christmas comes with hard-won joy, but the blessing and miracle are there. Praise the Lord for cancelled sin and the salvation the blessed Babe Jesus brings!

…..Mary-Ellen Grisham (eternallyours8@yahoo.com) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net )
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Post  Admin on Thu 14 Nov 2019, 10:47 am

STAYING WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE LEAVING
 
In order that Satan might not outwit us...' 2 Corinthians 2:11 NIV
 
Recognize who the real enemy of your marriage is. On those days when you think, 'I can't spend another moment in this relationship,' it's easy to lose perspective and focus on the wrong things. Marriage was God's idea. He planned it as the foundation of His earthly Kingdom. That makes marriage one of Satan's prime targets. It's why he poisoned the perspective and confused the thinking of the first couple. He deceived Adam into believing that Eve was his problem, blaming the fiasco on her (Genesis 3:12). But both were deceived by '...the father of lies' (John 8:44 NLT). Satan knew he could undermine God's plan by driving a wedge between the first couple, creating antagonism, blame and self-interest, and his methods haven't changed. It's why we 'keep tabs' on each other's shortcomings, identifying our mate as the problem and refusing to show grace.
 
Paul helps us understand how to overcome Satan's strategy. '...I have forgiven in the sight of Christ...in order that Satan might not outwit us...we are not unaware of his schemes' (2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NIV). Then he counsels us further by saying that '...love...keeps no record of wrongs...' (1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV). That doesn't mean love lives in denial, but that it chooses to practice self-denial! So rather than keeping score of your spouse's worst qualities, choose to look for their best ones and show your appreciation.
 
Nothing melts resentment and hardness like expressing appreciation for each other.
 
…..Written by Bob & Debby Gass by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)



I'VE BEEN SCAMMED
 
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading
as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades
as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade
as servants of righteousness.  2 Corinthians 11:13-15
 
I should have seen it coming, but I didn't. It came wrapped in a flattering official-looking letter, announcing that my son was selected to be in a book titled, Who's Who of Middle School Students. It looked wonderful, but it was a scam.
 
Maybe I was thrown off by the colorful letterhead, the actual street address, the website, and the phone number. Maybe it was the honor of my child being recognized nationally. Maybe it was the fact the letter repeated over and over there was no charge to be in the book. I also got confirmation they received the bio. So I was hooked, and I sent my check for $50 to purchase a copy of this wonderful chronicle announcing my son's entrance into the world of officially accomplished children.

When the book didn't arrive after a few months, I called and left a message. No response. I went on the website and sent an e-mail. No response. Finally a year later, I googled: "Who's Who of Middle School Students Scam." Low and behold, I wasn't the only one who'd been ripped off. Ugh!
 
I thought I was smarter than that. I watched for certain signs scam artists use, and when I didn't see any, I plunged right into deception. In hindsight, I wish I'd seen a copy of an actual book first.
 
Paul warned about an even greater deception that would come upon Christians. In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul warned believers about false teachers. Verses 13 through 15 read, "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness."
 
These false apostles weren't preaching the true gospel of Christ, and they weren't living according to Christ's teaching. Amazingly, the Corinthians still tolerated them in their midst. Paul warned them -- don't believe everything you see and hear!
 
The book of Matthew records the words of Jesus about scam artists. In Matthew 7:15-16, Jesus warns, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them."
 
These verses warn us that Satan will try to deceive us cloaked as an agent of God, but we can identify deception and deceivers by the fruit they produce. My experience taught me to watch and wait for the evidence of truth. Studying Scripture and learning about the unchanging heart and character of God will prepare us to identify true spiritual fruit when we see it. It will help us recognize the bad, deceptive fruit as well.
 
…..Glynnis Whitwer by way of Cup O’Cheer (cheer316kim@sc.rr.com) and “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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Post  Admin on Thu 07 Nov 2019, 6:24 pm

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Leith Anderson, a minister, shared this experience: As a boy, he grew up outside of New York City and was an avid fan of the old Brooklyn Dodgers. One day his father took him to a World Series game between the Dodgers and the Yankees. He was so excited, and he just knew the Dodgers would trounce the Yankees. Unfortunately, the Dodgers never got on base, and his excitement was shattered.

Years later, he was engrossed in a conversation with a man who was a walking sports almanac. Leith told him about the first major league game he attended and added, "It was such a disappointment. I was a Dodger fan and the Dodgers never got on base." The man said, "You were there? You were at the game when Don Larsen pitched the first perfect game in all of World Series history?"

Leith replied, ''Yeah, but uh, we lost." He then realized that he had been so caught up in his team's defeat that he missed out on the fact that he was a witness to a far greater page of history.

I wonder how often the same thing happens to us. We get so caught up in the "defeats" in our lives, the times when things don't turn out the way we want them to. So we're depressed because an illness continues to linger, or when people don't treat us the way we think they ought to, or when we face financial difficulties.

But we are often so blinded by the pain and disappointment of our "defeat" that we fail to appreciate the fact that we might be witness to something far greater that God is doing in our lives.

Remember when Paul was in prison? He wrote to the Philippian Christians, "But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel." (Phil. 1:12)

While most of us would have focused on the "defeat" (being in prison even though he was innocent), Paul was able to see what God was doing in his life. It's not an easy thing to do. It's never easy to view things from a heavenly perspective rather than an earthly one, but it is especially difficult in the midst of pain and defeat. But it is learning how to have a heavenly view that helps us to know joy no matter what happens in our lives.

Have a great day!

…..Alan Smith by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
_________________________________________________________________________

PEER PRESSURE GROWS UP
 
The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.
Proverbs 29:25
 
I used to think peer pressure only showed up in parenting books and situations facing teenagers. I thought it was something you outgrew. But I remember sitting in a business meeting with a roomful of Christian leaders and being asked to vote on a particular issue. The man seated next to me—a very good friend of mine—held a strong opinion that was different from mine. And during the debate that ensued, I chose to keep silent about my convictions. Finally, we were asked to stand up to indicate a yes vote on the measure.  My friend stood quickly to his feet. He wasn't the only one. Many others were rising in support. 
 
I can still feel the rumblings that clashed inside me. Even though I'm against this, I thought, how can I stay seated when one of my best friends is standing—when this whole place appears to be standing?
 
So I did what every preadolescent and teenager is tempted to do I caved in, and I stood up. And from that vantage point, I could clearly see two who remained seated, opposing the motion. Just two. I still remember them because of their courage and convictions.
 
Peer pressure. It happens, not just in school locker rooms and hallways, but around the lunch table with work associates, in the homes of people who are more affluent, during adult conversations when you don't want to admit who you really are or what you truly
believe. The fear of being different or disagreeable doesn't leave you when you reach adulthood. It changes clothes but keeps the same skeleton.
 
What I needed that day was integrity. I needed the character to vote for what I knew was right.
 
Be honest: Where are you still susceptible to peer pressure? Do you need to go against the herd today on some issues that you're facing?
 
Pray the same prayer you may have prayed as a teenager—that God will give you convictions so that you can stand firm.




 …..Cup O’Cheer (cheer316kim@sc.rr.com) by way of “Christian Voices” (christianvoices@att.net)
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