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AskMe #1516947 02/25/08 06:22 AM
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Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)
28 A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.

In ancient to modern times walls have been used to defend cities from potential aggressors. The walls provided boundaries. Beyond their defensive nature they were important symbols of the status and independence the city held. As the proverb indicates a person without self-control is like a city whose walls are broken-down. They lack the boundaries they need. They have become defenseless against the battles of life. They have lost their independence because they no longer rule over their own spirit. Their self-esteem is broken down as their lack of self-control leads them places they do not wish to go.
In a Wall Street Journal Article by Alexandra Alter, she describes the life of a married man in a quiet suburb of east Phoenix. She describes his wife, Sue, watching television in the living room, as Mr. Hoogestraat chats online with what appears on the screen to be a tall, slim redhead. He's never met the woman outside of a computer game, a well-chronicled digital fantasyland with more than eight million registered "residents" who get jobs, attend concerts and date other users. He's never so much as spoken to her on the telephone; but their relationship has taken on curiously real dimensions. The woman he's legally wed to is not amused. "It's really devastating," says Sue Hoogestraat, 58, an export agent for a shipping company, who has been married to Mr. Hoogestraat for seven months. "You try to talk to someone or bring them a drink, and they'll be having sex with a cartoon." Mr. Hoogestraat plays down his online relationship, assuring his wife that it's only a game. While many busy people can't fathom the idea of taking on another set of commitments, especially imaginary ones, this game of second life and other multiplayer games are moving into the mainstream. With some 30 million people now involved world-wide, there is mounting concern that some are squandering, even damaging their real lives by obsessing over their "second" ones. It may be wise to follow King Solomon’s proverb. Establish boundaries, have self control, don’t let the walls of your life come tumbling down by following foolish and careless thoughts. Remember 1 Peter 5:8, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” When our faith is in God, our city is strong!We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation, Jesus Christ.

AskMe #1516948 02/28/08 05:52 AM
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2 Kings 17:13-17 (NLT)
13 Again and again the Lord had sent his prophets and seers to warn both Israel and Judah: “Turn from all your evil ways. Obey my commands and decrees—the entire law that I commanded your ancestors to obey, and that I gave you through my servants the prophets.” 14 But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.
16 They rejected all the commands of the Lord their God and made two calves from metal. They set up an Asherah pole and worshiped Baal and all the forces of heaven. 17 They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire. They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger.

The King of Assyria besieged the city of Samaria. The city fell and the people were forced to live among the other Assyrians. The bible says the disaster fell upon the people because they began to follow the pagan practices of other nations. They had performed sacrifices and worshiped other idols in secrecy. Now they were living among those who had shown them such things. They began to sacrifice sons and daughters by fire. They consulted fortune-tellers, practiced sorcery, and gave themselves completely over to evil. God once again was trying to turn the people back to Him. He sent prophets to warn the people of Israel and Judah. He asked them to turn away from their sin; but they continued in their evil ways forgetting the commandments of the Lord.

For the Lord had made a covenant with the descendants of Jacob and commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow before them or serve them or offer sacrifices to them. But worship only the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt with great strength and a powerful arm. Bow down to him alone, and offer sacrifices only to him. Do not forget the covenant I made with you, and do not worship other gods. You must worship only the Lord your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.” But the people would not listen and continued to follow their former practices. So while these new residents worshiped the Lord, they also worshiped their idols. And to this day their descendants do the same.” The Bible recounts how the people continued in sin. Their descendants followed their parent’s ways and became like those who lived before them. Our country, The United States, was founded on the principles of being able to worship God freely, but it seems those rights are being taken away from some to let others have their own way. If we are not careful one day it may be recorded our descendants also followed the practices of those around us, because we gave into those practices ourselves. A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

AskMe #1516949 02/29/08 06:22 AM
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Luke 10:25-29 (NLT)
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” 27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” 29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In these verses we find someone known to be a religious expert, someone who would be expected to have the answers, and someone who others might perceive as wise asking Jesus a question. The question, “What should I do to inherit eternal life?” The real intent behind his question, “what laws should I follow in this present life so that I might have eternal life.” Jesus knew where the expert’s heart was so he allowed him to use “the law” as a standard of measurement for righteousness. He quickly stated Moses’ law and then to justify himself as someone who should receive eternal life he asked Jesus, “who is my neighbor.

Samaria had been overrun by Assyrians years before Christ was born. The people had mixed the Assyrian beliefs with their Jewish beliefs. They intermarried and carried on the values of both cultures. Even modern date genetic studies show the current day people of Samaria are descendants of Israelites and Assyrians. There was an ill relationship between Jews and Samaritans because of their past history. The Samaritans were well aware of the Jews bitterness towards them. The Bible says Jesus was sitting by the well, when a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” The Samaritans knew how deeply they were despised by Jews. It is why Jesus used the parable of The Good Samaritan to answer the religious expert. Jesus described how two Jewish religious leaders had passed a Jewish man robbed and beaten. Yet a Samaritan stopped to help the Jew and take care of him. Jesus knew the man asking him the question would have despised the Samaritans, just as most of the Jews did. So when Jesus asked him, “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” Jesus knew for the religious expert to show kindness to a Samaritan that there would have to be a change in his life. He knew the man would have to find something deeper than his beliefs in the law if he were to extend kindness to a Samaritan. How do you justify yourself in life? Do you try to say you are doing the right things, but then realize you are not? Paul says in Romans, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. It is faith in Christ that justifies us and gives us eternal life. And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Praise God and praise our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

AskMe #1516950 03/03/08 05:39 AM
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Ephesians 4:17-19 (NLT)
17 With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

The apostle Paul had just completed writing to the church they should be one in unity, and in concord with each other and their lives should be pure. He now tells them to be conscious of what they do and not to wander far from God or harden their hearts toward Him. He says those who do not know God have done this and they have no sense of shame for they are eager to live for lustful pleasures and practice many sins.

Shame is defined as a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming or impropriety. It is also the susceptibility to having such emotion. Before Adam and Eve had committed sin it says they were able to walk through the garden naked because they had no shame. They had not experienced sin and they were comfortable in the environment in which they were living. But at the moment of their sin it says their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. In chapter 3 of Zephaniah it says this about the city of Jerusalem, “No one can tell it anything; it refuses all correction. It does not trust in the Lord or draw near to its God. Its leaders are like roaring lions hunting for their victims. Its judges are like ravenous wolves at evening time, who by dawn have left no trace of their prey. Its prophets are arrogant liars seeking their own gain. Its priests defile the Temple by disobeying God’s instructions. But the Lord is still there in the city, and he does no wrong. Day by day he hands down justice, and he does not fail. But the wicked know no shame.” Why do the people know no shame? These people had fallen away in their relationship with God. They had distanced themselves from God, although He was there in the city handing down justice day by day. Because they lacked in their relationship with God they felt no shame for their actions, unlike Adam and Eve who had been so close to God. Shame has its purpose to motivate us to recognize our sin and move away from it. But we should never let our shame move us away from God; instead we need to move close to God. We need to confess to God our faults, our temptations, and our sins. Then instead of shame we will see we have a God and Savior who loves us despite our imperfections. Are you letting the shame of sin keep you away from a closer relationship with God? Pray and ask today that you may be forgiven. For the Lord promises if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. God wants us close to Him and if we let the shame of sin rule in our lives it does nothing but to push away when He wants to draw us closer.

AskMe #1516951 03/04/08 06:40 AM
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PSALM 119:137-144 (NLT)
137 O Lord, you are righteous, and your regulations are fair. 138 Your laws are perfect and completely trustworthy. 139 I am overwhelmed with indignation, for my enemies have disregarded your words. 140 Your promises have been thoroughly tested; that is why I love them so much. 141 I am insignificant and despised, but I don’t forget your commandments. 142 Your justice is eternal, and your instructions are perfectly true. 143 As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands. 144 Your laws are always right; help me to understand them so I may live.

David writes from his heart about God. He recognizes there is nothing missing or amiss about God. He is perfect in His nature, righteous and holy, fair and impartial. His laws can be trusted by all and they are perfect in their influence on man. David speaks to God that some have forgotten God’s words. They disregard the things they should be doing and it overwhelms David that men would do such a thing. Yet David remembers he is nothing without God. As the pressures of life bear down on David he finds joy in following God’s commands for they direct him.

In Psalms 38 David said, “My guilt overwhelms me—it is a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins. I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief. A raging fever burns within me, and my health is broken. I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart.” Have you ever felt like David? Have you felt overwhelmed with life? Have the sins of life crushed you and weighed you down? Most of us have experienced those feelings at one time in our life. You may even be experiencing them now. David’s words are a cry for help to God. It is obvious he was depressed and the mental stress was taking a toll on his physical life. David remembered God had always kept His promises to him. David looked to God for answers and he found joy in the comfort of God’s word. We too can find comfort in God’s world. Christ said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” What a magnificent promise from our Savior that He will give us rest. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.

AskMe #1516952 03/06/08 07:05 AM
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2 Kings 2:15-18 (NLT)
15 When the group of prophets from Jericho saw from a distance what happened, they exclaimed, “Elijah’s spirit rests upon Elisha!” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16 “Sir,” they said, “just say the word and fifty of our strongest men will search the wilderness for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has left him on some mountain or in some valley.” “No,” Elisha said, “don’t send them.” 17 But they kept urging him until they shamed him into agreeing, and he finally said, “All right, send them.” So fifty men searched for three days but did not find Elijah. 18 Elisha was still at Jericho when they returned. “Didn’t I tell you not to go?” he asked.

Elisha was following in the footsteps of Elijah to become a great prophet. Both men knew God was about to take Elijah away. So Elijah asked Elisha what he wanted before he was to go with God. Elisha replied, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.” Suddenly Elijah was taken away by a chariot of fire drawn by horses of fire. It swept between the two men and carried Elijah by a whirlwind into heaven. And while everyone saw what happened, the prophets from Jericho came to Elisha and asked if they should search for Elijah, but he kept telling them no there was no need. Finally Elisha gave into their persistence and 50 men searched for 3 days but could find no trace of Elijah. They finally returned and Elisha said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?”

Elisha was accepted as the new leader of the prophets. As he departed with Elijah, Elijah folded his cloak, struck the river and the river separated and allowed them to walk across on dry ground. When Elisha returned alone he had Elijah’s cloak, he folded it as Elijah had done, struck the river and it separated just as it had done before. The other prophets witnessed these events which led them to believe Elisha had been blessed with Elijah’s spirit. Rven though they had witnessed the events that had taken place they wanted to search for Elijah. Elisha kept telling them “no”, because he knew Elijah was with God. They continued to ask over and over. Shame finally caused Elisha to give into their requests. Slight doubts probably came into Elisha’s mind making him wonder; what if they did find Elijah; then he would be at fault for not letting them go. Yet the men returned 3 days later and Elisha who had been shamed into letting them go rebukes them saying, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?” Shame works for good, but can also work for evil as well. Shame is good when it helps us to realize our sins and it motivates us to do right. But if we let shame generate fear in our life; then shame starts taking us in new directions of sin. Elisha’s shame was a result of fear that maybe he was wrong. Maybe he didn’t see the miracle God had performed. Maybe he was inadequate and these other men knew what they were talking about when they said they should go search. Shame became Elisha’s enemy and then Elisha felt as though he had to justify himself when the men returned. James said, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing this: that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing. Be patient even with yourself, understanding the choices you make in life and not giving in wrongly due to shame.

AskMe #1516953 03/07/08 06:26 AM
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Proverbs 7:6-20 (NLT)
6 While I was at the window of my house, looking through the curtain, 7 I saw some naive young men, and one in particular who lacked common sense. 8 He was crossing the street near the house of an immoral woman, strolling down the path by her house. 9 It was at twilight, in the evening, as deep darkness fell. 10 The woman approached him, seductively dressed and sly of heart. 11 She was the brash, rebellious type, never content to stay at home.12 She is often in the streets and markets, soliciting at every corner.13 She threw her arms around him and kissed him, and with a brazen look she said, 14 “I’ve just made my peace offerings and fulfilled my vows.15 You’re the one I was looking for! I came out to find you, and here you are! 16 My bed is spread with beautiful blankets, with colored sheets of Egyptian linen. 17 I’ve perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18 Come, let’s drink our fill of love until morning. Let’s enjoy each other’s caresses, 19 for my husband is not home. He’s away on a long trip. 20 He has taken a wallet full of money with him and won’t return until later this month.”

In these verses King Solomon tells a story he witnessed as he looked through his curtain towards the streets. He saw a young man who was out at night; a dangerous time to be alone walking. A married woman who made her rounds with men came up to seduce the young man. She tempted him and gave him excuses to ease his mind. She laid a romantic trap speaking of fine linen, perfume and spices. Then she told him how her husband was away and would not be back for a period of time.

Sin has not changed its ways. If you were to read Matthew Henry’s commentary on the above verses the following words would be found: “Such a story as this would serve the lewd profane poets of our age to make a play of, and the harlot with them would be a heroine; nothing would be so entertaining to the audience, nor give them so much diversion, as her arts of beguiling the young gentleman and drawing in the country squire; her conquests would be celebrated as the triumphs of wit and love, and the comedy would conclude very pleasantly; and every young man that saw it acted would covet to be so picked up.” Matthew Henry lived from 1662 until 1714 yet his words could describe current times. In 1995 a movie called the Bridges of Madison County was a hit in the theaters. The movie was about a married woman whose husband and children were away from home. The woman met a photographer looking for directions to a covered wooded bridge he wanted to photograph for a magazine article. A four day love affair ensues but the wife decides in the end to remain with her family. She documents her lost love in a 3 volume dairy, which her children find upon her death. Her request is to have her ashes spread near an old covered bridge where her former lover’s ashes had also been placed. Her children are left to deal with the request, which they finally submit to believing their mom sacrificed her happiness for them. Whether it was real life, a movie or a play, it was still a description of sin. Since Adam and Eve sin has remained all around us; tempting us and leading us away from God. We have fantasized about sin and glamorized it to make it more acceptable. But we have a God who wants us free from sin and listens to our pleas for help. King David wrote, “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.”

AskMe #1516954 03/10/08 05:38 AM
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Proverbs 10:24-25 (NLT)
The fears of the wicked will be fulfilled; the hopes of the godly will be granted. When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.

In Ecclesiastes King Solomon looked at good and evil. His conclusion was, to the righteous it shall be well with them, but to the wicked woe to them. The wicked have a fear of punishment for their sin, but they lack the wisdom to take their fears and turn from their sins. The righteous also have fears, but they look to God to solve their problems so they live according to their faith and not their fear. The prosperity of the wicked will come to an end, but those content in God have a strong immovable foundation that preserves their hope.

The book of 1 Samuel recounts the story of Hanna. Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. Each year Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies at the Tabernacle. The priests of the Lord at that time were the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas. On the days Elkanah presented his sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to Peninnah and each of her children. And though he loved Hannah, he would give her only one choice portion because the Lord had given her no children. So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat. “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?” As the story of Hanna unfolds the Bible says Hanna prayed she might have a son who she could dedicate to God. Even though she had been taunted for years she still had faith in God. Hanna’s husband, Elkanah, was not an encouragement as he gave the greater portions of offering to Peninnah and her children; and lacked understanding of her pain, saying, “you have me, isn’t that better than having ten sons?” But Hanna’s foundation of faith was in God. She prayed to God because she knew He could answer her prayers. She eventually gave birth to Samuel and prayed this prayer, “My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong. Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me. No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Because of Hannah’s faith the Lord gave Hannah three sons and two daughters. Praise God who listens to the prayers of those who are down trodden and fearful. Praise Him for being the foundation of our hopes.

AskMe #1516955 03/11/08 05:43 AM
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Galatians 3:1-7 (NLT)
1 Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? 4 Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it? 5 I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ. 6 In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” 7 The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.

Here in these verses the apostle Paul is speaking to Galatians who have accepted Christ as their Savior. They foolishly have fallen back to believing their eternal life depends on their good works instead of their faith in Christ. Paul reminds them they received the Holy Spirit because of their belief in what God had done through Christ and not through their own efforts. He reminded them how God’s word had said, “Abraham believed God and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”

All through Psalms David speaks about the love of God. Over and over he says God’s love is unfailing and endures forever. David says when one of his loved ones dies, God cares. In the times of David’s sin he realized God did not withdraw from him, it was he who withdrew from God yet God still loved him. Jonah in his anger towards the Ninevites said, “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” In Jeremiah, “Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love, With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” John said, “From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.” If God is always showing His love towards us, doesn’t it make sense God wants us to show our love towards others? Jesus told us we should love one another just as He loved us. 1 John 3:23 says, “And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us.” And if we are to love one another, we are to show it by the truth of our actions. Our acts of love towards others demonstrate our faith in Christ and our belief He loves us. Pray your love for others will be bountiful. Pray you may touch other lives as Christ has touched your own life.

AskMe #1516956 03/13/08 05:25 AM
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1 Corinthians 8:1-3 (NLT)
1 Now regarding your question about food that has been offered to idols. Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. 2 Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. 3 But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.

The apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians about one of the challenges they were facing. It was a custom among those who worshiped idols to prepare great feasts from their animal sacrifices. They would invite friends to participate; or take leftovers to them; or sell the meat in the market. Paul was warning the Corinthian church to be care in their knowledge. Some had come under the opinion because they knew the idols were false they could enjoy the feasts anytime. Others because they knew the meat was sacrificed to idols refused to eat the meat their friends offered. Paul was saying, we all have answers we think are right, but we are not always right. Our love for God is what strengthens our relationship with God and also strengthens the church. Knowing too we should love others, we need to be careful in the conclusions we reach because we also love God.

How often have you formed a quick opinion about the actions of others? Have you ever felt you had the answers that were right while others around you were wrong? What about times when you were undecided what was right and what was wrong because something did not match up to your beliefs? The questions which should be asked before these conclusions are formed: “Did you consider your love for God?” and “Did you consider how God wants you to show love to others as He has shown you love through mercy and grace?” There needs to be a balance where we respect and love God, but we also extend our love and respect to those around us. Some Corinthians probably offended their neighbors and friends by strongly refusing to eat sacrificial meats. Other Corinthians participated so freely in the sacrificial feasts their neighbors and friends could not see a difference in their lives from anyone else. They needed to consider their liberty in Christ carefully. They were not to let their beliefs move them to believing they were better than their friends and neighbors, but neither were they to indulge so freely in their liberty that they forgot about God. Pray God will show you what is right in His eyes. Pray for His wisdom to do the right things without becoming prejudice or arrogant in your actions. Let God’s love shine through to others.

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Acts 13:34-39 (NLT)
34 For God had promised to raise him from the dead, not leaving him to rot in the grave. He said, ‘I will give you the sacred blessings I promised to David.’ 35 Another psalm explains it more fully: ‘You will not allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.’36 This is not a reference to David, for after David had done the will of God in his own generation, he died and was buried with his ancestors, and his body decayed. 37 No, it was a reference to someone else—someone whom God raised and whose body did not decay.
38 “Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. 39 Everyone who believes in him is declared right with God—something the law of Moses could never do.

Paul and Barnabas were on the island of Antioch of Pisidia. It was the Sabbath and as the custom the books of Moses and the prophets were read from in the synagogue. The leaders asked Paul and Barnabas if they had any encouraging words for those who were gathered. Paul stood and began speaking to both Jews and God-fearing Gentiles. His words of encouragement were “We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is declared right with God.”

Jesus used this illustration: "If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found. In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away! The good news Paul shared is God wants to rescue those lost in sin. Even if there is one lost person, God is willing to save them and bring them back to Him. This is accomplished through Jesus Christ who was not left in the grave to rot, but was raised back to life. It was through Jesus forgiveness of sin was made available to all who believe in Him. Those who believe are declared right with God, justified and forgiven. Heaven rejoices over the sinner who believes in Christ for they have received forgiveness that could never be found through ones own religious efforts. Praise God Christ was willing to give of himself so that we could live eternally with Him.

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Psalm 119:1-6 (NLT)
1 Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. 2 Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. 3 They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. 4 You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. 5 Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! 6 Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.

Psalm 119 is one of the longest Psalms David wrote. David put much of his heart into this psalm. In it are many pieces of wisdom just as David’s son Solomon provides many pieces of wisdom in Proverbs. These verses focus on the joy and consistency a person finds when they follow the Lord. Their life is not filled with duality, but is a single life living for God in which they find no shame.

In one episode of Everyone Loves Raymond, Ray’s older brother Robert pretends he is Ray after a woman he just met assumes him to be Ray Barone, the famous sports writer. She makes the assumption after hearing someone call Robert, “Mr. Barone”. Robert convinces Ray to play along with the deception. So Ray pretends to be Robert and Robert pretends to be Ray. Robert lies because he feels the woman will not like him as just being Robert, the brother of Ray Barone. He hopes the deception will buy him time where he can eventually tell her the truth after she comes to like him for who he is. All goes well until the woman shows up at Ray’s home looking for who she thinks is Robert, but instead meets Ray’s wife Deborah. After several moments of confusion it becomes evident Ray and Robert have been deceptive about their identities. Robert’s girlfriend storms off angry after learning about the lie and Deborah is angry with Ray for playing along with Robert’s deception. Robert was living two lives, his real life and his deceptive life. He gave up his integrity and in the end gave up his joy. Had he only been consistent in living the truth, Robert would not have been ashamed over his deception. David’s request to God was that his actions would be consistent with God’s desire and because of that consistency he could compare his life to God’s desires and not be ashame.

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Matthew 22:15-22 (NLT)
15 Then the Pharisees met together to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 16 They sent some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to meet with him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. 17 Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 18 But Jesus knew their evil motives. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? 19 Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin, 20 he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” 22 His reply amazed them, and they went away.

In these verses we see how the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day, meet to plot against Christ. After planning they did not go themselves, but instead sent disciples with supporters of the government to question Jesus. The leaders thought it would be easier to trap Jesus if he believed He was talking to those who wanted to learn. These men used flattery to tempt Christ; calling Him honest; saying He teaches truthfully; and He is fair and impartial. Yet these men were being dishonest in their intent; they did not know how to be fair in what they did; nor were they impartial about their judgment. Jesus saw through their dishonesty and replied with an answer that amazed them and left them unable to say anything else.

After paying large fees to a dating service, a woman said she had paid for honesty, but instead got dishonesty. The company told her they performed thorough back ground checks on each potential date. They said they went to great lengths to make sure couples were compatible and each date would meet her expectations. After the first date, this woman found out the man she dated was married. She felt betrayed by the man and also by the dating service. She obtained more details when she called the man’s wife. The wife revealed the husband had a sex addiction and was in treatment for the problem. Later it was revealed this dating service had similar problems throughout their offices across the country. We all want honesty. Sometimes we are even willing to pay for it if we think that is what we will get. But there are those dishonest in their ways and they plot how they can entrap gain from others. Pray God will give you the wisdom to see dishonesty and how to respond in a proper manner. Pray for your own honesty that others may find integrity in you.

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Acts 5:38-39 (NLT)
38 “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!”

Peter and the apostles were spreading the message of the gospel to the crowds of people and healing many who were sick. The Sadducees were filled with jealousy. They had the apostles placed in public jail. An angel of the Lord secretly released the men from jail and told them to go back to the temple to preach the message of life. Surprised the men were no longer in jail the religious leaders found them once again preaching in the temple. They confronted Peter and the apostles and after the apostles spoke of how Christ died by the hands of those claiming to be law abiders they threatened to put the apostles to death. One Pharisee named Gamaliel who was an expert in the law and well respected spoke to the leaders and gave the advice in the verses above.

Gamaliel is the Greek from of the Hebrew word meaning “reward of God”. Obviously respected, no matter how unwelcome his recommendation may have been, the other leaders acted upon Gamaliel’s word. When the apostle Paul spoke in Jerusalem he said, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under “Gamaliel”. As his student, I was carefully trained in our Jewish laws and customs.” Paul had learned from Gamaliel and had respected him for his teaching. Jewish accounts of Gamaliel say he died a Pharisee and when he died the honor of the Law ceased along with purity and piety. Early church history says he remained a part of the Sanhedrin, the ruling authority, but embraced Christianity and secretly helped Christian believers. While not much more is know about Gamaliel, his own words show he strongly believed in God’s authority. He understood God was in control and if God was with these men to preach the gospel then the battle would be against God. Do you acknowledge the control of God in your life? Daniel said it is God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny. Are you allowing God to control your destiny or are you trying to get through life on your own?

AskMe #2035652 03/31/08 05:26 AM
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Gar theos houto agapao kosmos hoste didomi autos monogenes huios hina pas pisteuo eis autos apollumi me apollumi alla echo aionios zoe. Gar theos apostello ou autos huios eis kosmos hina krino kosmos alla hina kosmos dia autos sozo.

You have probably seen these words many times, but not in this form. These are the English phonetics for the Greek words written over 2000 years ago. John 3:16-17, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Sometimes as we look at the modern day translations of the Bible it can be easy to forget the words that were penned so we would have the privilege of reading them. They are living breathing words of God, meant to inspire and encourage us in life. They have been carefully preserved through our history. Not just one copy, but many copies, so many people could hear the good news. These words have great prominence in history and have validated other historical events. Their history tells us about God and His love for us. They are God’s words of hope to life eternal with Him. “For God so loved the world”, He didn’t just love one person, He didn’t just love one race of people, and He didn’t love just one gender……GOD LOVED THE WORLD. God didn’t want people to perish because of sin; He wanted them to live eternally with Him. But there was a price to be paid for sin, and that price was death. So people died to their sins. God provided a gift of eternal love and life everlasting; He gave payment of His son’s life for the price of sin. God had asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son as evidence of love for God. And Abraham willingly was ready to do so until God intervened. He stopped Abraham from killing Isaac, and God made a promise to Abraham that through him would come one to bear the sacrifice for sin. Jesus Christ did not come to condemn the world. He came to show how sin had taken root in the world and that through Him we could be saved. What God didn’t ask Abraham to do of his own son, God did with His son. He made a sacrifice for sin that we may all be able to believe and have everlasting life. Do you know God loves you? Do you know God gave up His son for you? And did you know His son could have stopped His own death at any time, but Jesus willingly died for you? Even mocked and ridiculed by others while he hung on the cross, Jesus had nothing to prove except His love for us. And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. And Jesus said, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish.” Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

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Job 6:24:30 (NLT)
24 Teach me, and I will keep quiet. Show me what I have done wrong. 25 Honest words can be painful, but what do your criticisms amount to? 26 Do you think your words are convincing when you disregard my cry of desperation? 27 You would even send an orphan into slavery or sell a friend. 28 Look at me! Would I lie to your face? 29 Stop assuming my guilt, for I have done no wrong. 30 Do you think I am lying? Don’t I know the difference between right and wrong?

In these verses we have Job speaking to his friends who have been trying to understand why he has been afflicted with devastation and physical pain. They feel maybe Job is being cursed for something he has done. Job tells them he is ready to yield to conviction and listen to honest words that may show him if he has problems and where they might lay. Honest men tend to want their mistakes rectified. Job says he is crying out in desperation for the truth. But his friends have been critical and reaching for possible answers by making assumptions.

Sometimes we need advice from others. But the advice we get can come in many forms. Some people will respond critically. They point out as many negative things as they can, but they never offer any genuine advice or answers. Others try to comfort us, but instead of answers they falsely give us words that provide false hope. True friends have a person’s best interest at heart. They will be truthful; not making assumptions; taking fact and presenting it no matter how painful it may be to say or hear. While the honest words may be hurtful, they lead to healing. They lead to understanding the truth and they provide an objective view. Let God speak to you on how the truth should be presented. Pray for wisdom to deal with hard and difficult situations. Above all be a friend that is honest, respected and has integrity.

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1 John 4:7-12 (NLT)

7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.




In these verses the Apostle John tells us love comes from God. It is God who put his love into our lives so that we might reflect His laws and hope of salvation. John says God displays real love because He first loved us. God has no hidden motive or agenda. He reached out to us in love before we knew we were capable of returning love. God loved us so much His Son Jesus became a willing sacrifice for our sins. Therefore we should show our love to others because God’s love is in us.




In 1970, the movie "Love Story" was in theaters across the nation. A single line was repeated twice in the movie, once by Ali McGraw and once by Ryan O’Neal. The line "love is never having to say your sorry" became the thirteenth most popular movie quotation in 100 years of movie making. In a 1972 movie, "What’s up Doc" with Ryan O’Neal and Barbara Streisand, Barbara Streisand looks at Ryan O’Neal with flirtatious eyes and says, "love is never having to say your sorry." Without emotion Ryan O’Neal responds, "that is the dumbest thing I have ever heard." The writers were playing on the humor everyone does not have the same understanding of love. The Apostle Paul gives us these words about love: love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude; love does not demand its own way; love is not irritable; love keeps no record of being wronged; love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out; love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Paul also says, "And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his (God’s) love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God." Take time to understand God and you can understand what love is and what love is not, because God is love. May God’s love be ever present in your life.

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Luke 1:57-64 (NLT)
57 When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. 58 And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her. 59 When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!” 61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.

This is the story of the birth of John the Baptist. Zachariah his father was a priest serving in the temple. One day as he entered the most holy portion of the temple an angel appeared to him. This angel told him his wife would give birth to a boy and his name would be John. As strong as his faith was to serve in the temple, it wasn’t strong enough to believe the angel. John questioned the angel and said how could this be so, my wife and I are too old….something so similar to what Abraham said. For his unbelief he was told he would be unable to speak until John was born. In the verses above we find John born and Zechariah finally being able to say John’s name.

Webster’s dictionary defines faith as a firm belief and trust in something for which there is no proof. Faith towards God is a belief of strong conviction that God can be completely trusted. Trust is about what the future holds. If you see a chair and you trust the durability of the chair you believe you can sit down safe and securely in it. Now I have some friends who don’t like to fly, but occasionally they must get on an airplane and have to belief both in the mechanics of the planes and the in pilot. If they could not muster up the faith necessary they would find themselves standing in the airport as the plane leaves them behind. Many of us think we have complete faith when we might not. I remember asking my wife once, “Do you completely trust God?” I knew I was going to say more, but I wanted to see what her first response was. Her answer was, “Yes, I trust God.” Ok, now what if God told you that your daughter must die in order to fulfill a plan. What if he said she was going to die slowly from a disease so others could see her faith in Him? My wife quickly responded, “I don’t think I would want to trust God in that case.” But that is what faith is about, we must trust completely in all cases. We believe God without doubt, even though we know there may be hardships, and painful things to come our way. We have to believe God knows what is right and holy for the sake of everyone and not just a few. Jesus had faith in His Father as He prayed He might not have to suffer on the cross and have God turn His back on Him as He took on the sins of the world. But Jesus trusted God and while his request was not given, God gave Jesus the strength to endure the hardships. Many men died under the flogging of a Roman soldier, Jesus did not. Many died trying to carry the weight of the cross up a hill after their sever beating, but Jesus did not. Many gave into the temptations and ridicule as they hung on the cross, but Jesus did not. God had strengthened Jesus to endure the hardships up until the end. It fulfilled a plan put in motion ages before Christ arrived. How strong is your faith in God? Do you trust Him unconditionally?

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John 7:1-5 (NLT)
1 After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. 2 But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, 3 and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! 4 You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” 5 For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.

Jesus was staying in Galilee, his hometown, because Jewish leaders were plotting to kill him for healing a man on the Sabbath. It was not out of fear he wished to stay, but it was not the right time for his death, which he knew was eventually coming. The Jewish Festival of shelters was a holy holiday, one of three, which Jewish men were required to attend. His brothers encouraged Jesus to attend, but they were doing so for their own reasons. They wanted to see if their brother could really be famous with the miracles he could perform. But they doubted him and so were they pushing Jesus to go prove himself.

The Great Debaters was a movie produced by Oprah Winfrey. Denzel Washington directed and starred in the movie. Denzel was a teacher who wanted his students from a historically southern black college to debate against white colleges in the 1930s. Oprah and Denzel took a few moments to reflect on the movie and talk about their own life moments. Oprah said, “When I was going through a hard time once, a woman handed me a note that said, “We’re praying for you.” I’ve never forgotten that. Denzel replied, “I walked in the house one day and—feeling full of myself, a movie star—I said to my mother, “Did you ever think this was all going to happen?” She was like, “Please. First of all, go wash the windows for me. You have no idea how many people have been praying for you when you were being a knucklehead.” These two had something in common; people had prayed for them. Oprah remembered the hard time she was having and how prayer became an encouragement. Denzel remembered the high feeling he had becoming famous, but his mother quickly reminded him people had prayed for him to get him where he was. The brothers of Jesus were hoping Jesus could somehow make the family famous, but Jesus was about doing what God required of Him. We all need to remember as Job learned, God can give and God can take away. Someone could be famous today and forgotten tomorrow. Always be in prayer for each other. Pray for your brothers and sisters that they would follow the will of God. Always be ready to pray for their encouragement.

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Numbers 24:1-4 (NLT)

1 By now Balaam realized that the Lord was determined to bless Israel, so he did not resort to divination as before. Instead, he turned and looked out toward the wilderness, 2 where he saw the people of Israel camped, tribe by tribe. Then the Spirit of God came upon him, 3 and this is the message he delivered: “This is the message of Balaam son of Beor, the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, 4 the message of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who bows down with eyes wide open:

King Balak had summoned Balaam, known for his ability to conjure curses. Balaam used divination which is a process of looking for omens and signs. But Balaam had been told by God twice to bless Israel and he had done so against the orders of King Balak. Balaam had seen God’s power at work and he knew there was no need to refuse. So Balaam is asked a third time to curse Israel. Realizing God was determined to bless Israel, Balaam didn’t even try to seek out omens or turn to demons for curses. Instead he walked out to the people of Israel and in boastful vanity magnified himself as the one delivering the blessing from God.

There is a commercial with business men sitting around a table with their boss. One of the men makes a statement to the effect, “maybe we should use this company to handle our shipping!” The boss repeats back the same phrase and immediately gets applause from all the other men. The man who first made the comment looks shocked and says, “I just said that.” The boss looks at him and says, “No, you didn’t move your hand like this.” The other man just sits there frustrated knowing he gave the idea, but his boss took the credit for his thoughts. Balaam tried to take the credit for God’s words by saying he was the one who could clearly see God’s desires; he was the one who could hear God; he was the one who got the vision; and he was the one who bowed down. People are often ready to take credit for God’s work. But there will be a time when there is no denying who God is. In the book of Revelation John writes the following, “They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"” Are you giving God the credit he deserves or are you trying to take credit for yourself? Heavenly Father we humble ourselves before you acknowledging you are Lord and Savior. Lord you alone are worthy of our praise. Keep us away from the temptation to praise ourselves for the works of your hands.

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