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AskMe #3006187 09/25/18 07:19 AM
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1 John 2:1 New International Version (NIV)
2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the FatherJesus Christ, the Righteous One.

John reminds us that like Christ we are to follow His example and stay away from sin. But if we do sin, Christ himself is our advocate with the Father saying this person is a child of mine and I have taken the punishment for their sin. Since Christ forgives us of our sin, we too are to forgive ourselves.



Professor Mary Poplin from Claremont Graduate School says she met Jesus in a dream. At the time, she was teaching radical feminism, multiculturalism, and postmodernism. As a devotee of New Age spirituality, she claims she was the poster child for "spiritual but not religious." She writes:

A central image in my life was the [New Age] actress Shirley MacLaine, dancing on the beach in free-spirited fashion. I was seeking happiness, self-fulfillment, and freedom from restraint, all the while deluding myself about my own "goodness." We were children of the 60s, products of the "I'm okay, you're okay" culture.
And yet in certain moments, she said, "I could see glimpses of who I really was. I was not growing freer. My heart was growing harder, my emotions darker, and my mind more confused." Then in 1992, she had an unshakable dream in which she saw Jesus at the Last Supper. "When I got to Jesus," she wrote, "and looked into his eyes, I grasped immediately that every cell in my body was filled with filth. Weeping, I fell at his feet. But when he reached over and touched my shoulders, I suddenly felt perfect peace!"

She reached out to a friend who suggested that she needed to read the Bible. Then in January 1993, she was sitting in a small church and received an invitation to come forward. She prayed, "If you are real, please come and get me. Suddenly I felt the same peace I had known in the dream."

"To clean up my soul," she said, "God taught me what a good friend of mine calls the 'bar of soap' passage1 John 1:9 But forgiveness wasn't always easy to accept. I had undergone two abortions, and over three long years of prayer, I doubted whether God had truly forgiven me. Some counselors and fellow Christians had encouraged me to 'forgive myself,' but the more I searched Scripture the more confident I was that forgiveness could only come as God's gift. Like Paul, I had to learn to '[forget] what is behind and [strain] toward what is ahead' (Phil. 3:13-14)."

[Mary Poplin, "As a New Age Enthusiast, I Fancied Myself a Free Spirit and a Good Person," Christianity Today (12-21-17)]

AskMe #3006239 10/03/18 06:25 AM
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1 Peter 1:3 New International Version (NIV)
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Through the death of Christ, God has offered us a gift of a new life, a rebirth, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is for us to realize our sin, have the desire to turn from it and place our belief, trust and faith in Gods free gift to us.



In his book Unbelievable, Justin Brierley writes convincingly that the resurrection is the only adequate explanation for the historical evidence found in the Gospels:

Mike Licona and Bart Ehrman are both New Testament scholars who have very different takes on the resurrection of Jesus. Ehrman let go of his Christian faith after encountering perceived problems with the New Testament. Mike Licona had a similar crisis of faith in the early years of his academic career when his study of the New Testament didn't match what he had been taught about it while growing up. However, whereas Ehrman's study led him away from Christianity, Licona's research convinced him that the resurrection was the only adequate explanation for the historical evidence he found in the Gospels.

Other pieces of the puzzle fell into place as Licona began to appreciate how the New Testament accounts reflected the literary conventions of their day rather than the modern standards often imposed on them by both Christians and critics. During one of his dialogues with Licona on the show, Ehrman rattled off a list of differences between the Gospel accounts of the resurrection, such as the number of women and the accounts of angels at the empty tomb.

He argued that these differences give reason to doubt the reliability of the resurrection story. Naturally, Licona knows these differences just as well as Ehrman but he didn't find that they count against the overall strength of the account, saying:

It is a bit like the Titanic. There were conflicting accounts from survivors, such as whether the ship broke in half before sinking or whether it went down in its entirety. But no one called into question whether the Titanic sank or not. It was the periphery details that were in question. It is the same thing with the New Testament. They are all peripheral details that have no impact on the fundamental truth of Christianity.

AskMe #3006275 10/16/18 06:21 AM
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Psalm 19:14 New International Version (NIV)
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Our words can heal or destroy. God intended for us to use our words to build up people, to teach them and to let them know God loves them.


Pastor Scott Sauls from Nashville spent five years working with Pastor Tim Keller at New York City's Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Sauls writes that there are many ways that he saw Keller model the gospel, but there is one thing that really stood out for him. Sauls writes:

Tim [Keller] is the best example I have ever seen of someone who consistently covers with the gospel.
Never once did I see Tim tearing another person down to their face, on the Internet, or through gossip. Instead, he seemed to assume the good in people. He talked about how being forgiven and affirmed by Jesus frees us for thisfor "catching people doing good" instead of looking for things to criticize or be offended by. Even when someone had done wrong or been in error, Tim would respond with humble restraint and self-reflection instead of venting negativity and criticism. As the grace of God does, he covered people's flaws and sins. Sometimes he covered my flaws and sins. He did this because that's what grace does; it reminds us that in Jesus we are shielded and protected from the worst things about ourselves. Because Jesus shields us like this, we should of all people be zealous to restore reputations versus destroying reputations, to protect a good name versus calling someone a name, to shut down gossip versus feeding gossip, to restore broken relationships versus begrudging broken people.


[How to Live the Gospel: A Lesson from Tim Keller; Scott Sauls, Befriend (Tyndale, 2016), page 48]

AskMe #3006349 10/23/18 06:11 AM
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Romans 8:38-29 (NKJV)
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Gods love for us supersedes any and all things. There is nothing that can pry us away from the hands of God. His love for us is forever.


The following verses come from the song NO MATTER WHAT by Ryan Stevenson. They are a reminder that no matter what goes loves us and nothing can change that.

A lot of us grew up believing
At any moment we could lose it all
And at the drop of a hat
God might turn His back and move on
A lot of us feel like we blew it
Thinking that we're just too far gone
But I want you to know
There's still a hope for you now

No matter what you've done
You can't erase His love
Nothing can change it
You're not separated
No matter what

There's never been a better time to get honest
There's never been a better time to get clean
So come as you are
Run to the cross and be free
Oh, be free

No matter what you've done
You can't erase His love
Nothing can change it
You're not separated
No matter where you run
He's always holding on
You're still a daughter, You're still a son
No matter what

AskMe #3006399 10/29/18 06:27 AM
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Romans 12:1 New International Version (NIV)
A Living Sacrifice
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of Gods mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Godthis is your true and proper worship.

The apostle reminds us that as Gods children we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice that is hold and pleasing to God. Sometimes we forget to turn ourselves over to God, but then we are faced with uncertainty in life and we reach out to God for help.



In an interview for Rolling Stone magazine, U2's lead singer Bono talks about how he's learning to connect with David's honest laments and prayers from the Book of Psalms. Bono suffered several facial, arm, and shoulder fractures that required three metal plates and 18 screws after a bike accident in Central Park. He's also had serious back and vocal cord problems. He is now writing songs with deeper meaning: "I read the Psalms of David all the time. They are amazing. He is the first bluesman, shouting at God, 'Why did this happen to me?' But there's honesty in that too."

Bono recounts David's struggles with King Saul, especially during David's hideout in the cave trying to avoid Saul's attempts to murder him. "In a moment of demonic rage, Saul turns against [David], tries to kill him with a spear, and David is, in fact, exiled. He is chased, and he hides out in a cave. And in the darkness of that cave, in the silence and the fear and probably the stink, he writes the first psalm."

Bono concludes, "And I wish that weren't true. I wish I didn't know enough about art to know that that is truethat sometimes you just have to be in that cave of despair."

AskMe #3006448 11/07/18 06:44 AM
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James 5:4 New International Version (NIV)
4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

James reminds those who employee workers that God owns what they have and it is their responsibility to manage his assets correctly. Employers should ensure their workers are paid fairly and not taken advantage of for God hears the cries of those suffering.


There is, apparently, a stigma attached to carrying credit card debt. More than a third of Americans say they would be embarrassed to let others know that they are not paying off their credit card debt in full every month, more than 40 percent say they believe they will be judged by family and friends because of credit card debt. The surprising thing is that Americans' average credit card debt is $15,355. Talk about the elephant in the room.

An executive for the firm that completed the survey said, "It's no surprise that shame about debt isn't necessarily productive in preventing or eradicating it. Shame doesn't guarantee success. The only way to pay off debt is to face it head on and make a plan to get rid of it."

[Paul Ausick, "Americans Are Ashamed to Admit Credit Card Debt," 24/7 Wall Street blog (1-19-16)]

AskMe #3006570 11/14/18 06:45 AM
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1 Peter 3:18 New International Version (NIV)
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

Christ gave His life in exchange for the punishment our sins required. He did this for our sake so that we may become children of God.



In his recent book (2017) (Re)union, Bruxy Cavey writes:

The Victoria Cross is Canada's highest military honor, similar to the Medal of Honor in the United States. These medals are awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. Of the thousands awarded to date, more citations have been bestowed for falling on grenades to save comrades than any other single act.

The first Victoria Cross of World War II was awarded to Company Sergeant-Major John Robert Osborn. The sergeant-major and his men were cut off from their battalion and under heavy attack. When the enemy came close enough, the Canadian soldiers were subjected to a concentrated barrage of grenades. Several times Osborn protected his men by picking up live grenades and throwing them back, but eventually one fell in just the wrong position to pick up in time. With only a split second to decide, Osborn shouted a warning and threw himself on top of the grenade. It exploded, killing him instantly. The rest of his company survived that battle because of Osborn's selfless other-centeredness.

I love stories of this kind of bravery and self-sacrifice. They give me hope for humanity and offer us all a glimpse of God's goodness reflected in his image-bearers. But no matter how beautiful that heroic act may be, through Jesus we see an even greater love at the heart of God. You see, soldiers who fall on grenades do so out of love for their friends while they are on the battlefield trying to kill their enemies. Jesus died for his friends, and his enemies, and for everyone in between.

AskMe #3006834 11/27/18 07:04 AM
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Colossians 3:16 New International Version (NIV)
16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Gods message of salvation is given to lighten our hearts, to let us know we are from sins condemnation. Therefore let us sing in gratitude for all that God has done.


Christians have joyful, stirring songs that celebrate the wonder of our relation with God. This is especially true during the Christmas season with songs such as the spine-tingling Handels Messiah. In contrast to this, in 2011 comedian Steve Martin performed a song on The Late Show with David Letterman that he called the entire atheist hymnal (on one page of paper). He called it: Atheists Dont Have No Songs.

Christians have their hymns and pages,
Hava Nagilas for the Jews,
Baptists have the rock of ages,
Atheists just sing the blues.

Romantics play Claire de Lune,
Born agains sing He is risen,
But no one ever wrote a tune,
For godless existentialism.

For Atheists theres no good news.
Theyll never sing a song of faith.
In their songs they have one rule:
The he is always lowercase.

Of course, his humor is meant to entertain usand does. But what a contrast to a piece of music that moves hearts and masses across the board. Handels Messiah is arguably one of the most mellifluous expressions of Christian doctrine ever produced.

In fact, I think it makes all the sense in the world that both inexplicable tears and profound joy accompany the words and sounds of Handels Messiah. For this Messiah brings with him an invitation unlike any other: Come and see the Father, the Creator, the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Come and see the Light, and the Overcomer of darkness, the One who wept at the grave of a friend, and the one who collects our tears in his bottle even before he will dry every eye. Christians, lets sing our songs!

[Jill Carattini, Random Hallelujahs, RZIM: A Slice of Infinity (12-16-16)]

AskMe #3006873 12/04/18 06:55 AM
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John 8:12 (NIV)
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

Jesus tells those who are listening to follow Him. It doesnt matter what our desires are. It doesnt matter the direction we want to go. Instead, we are to follow Jesus for we will always walk in light and not the darkness of evil.



Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often I have received better than I deserved. Often my faintest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led make of that what you will.

[The Mystery of Guidance Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow, (Counterpoint, 2001), Page 133]

AskMe #3007234 12/18/18 06:31 AM
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This will be the last devotion of this year. I wanted to tell you what a blessing it is to share Gods word with each of you. I know all of us have times in our lives that are difficult, uncertain and often burdensome. Yet God is always looking after us, teaching us lessons, and providing wisdom to face the next hurdle in life. We can always count on God, which is why I want to share the Christmas Story from Luke 2, verses 1-20.

Luke 2:1-20 New International Version (NIV)
The Birth of Jesus
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Lets go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.



Many believe the Wise Men were also in attendance at the manger, but according to The Bible they came about 2 years after the birth of Christ and went first to King Herod, for who would know where a king lived, but a king. Then they went to the home of Joseph and Mary and this is where Joseph and Mary learned they needed to flee from their home and head to Egypt for Herod was displeased there was a king living in his land. This was all a part of Gods plan for us to know Jesus who would save us from our sin. Merry Christmas to all. May God bless each and every one of you!

AskMe #3007450 01/08/19 06:51 AM
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Amos 5:14-15 New International Version (NIV)

14 Seek good, not evil, that you may live.

Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.

15 Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts.

Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.



There is always a struggle within us of good and evil. We want to live a good and fruitful life, yet circumstances, environment and even our own nature pulls us away from good towards evil. The Lord God Almighty has provided mercy and grace through His Son Jesus Christ. Its up to us to acknowledge our sin, to acknowledge Christ as our Lord and savior and receive our redemption from sin.



In his book Visions of Vocation, Christian author and thinker Stephen Garber tells the story of meeting a woman who directed the Protection Project, an initiative under Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government that addresses human trafficking. Garber asked her, "So why do you care about the issue of human trafficking?"

She told the story of her heart opening to the cries of women and girls who were sold into slavery, often involving sexual bondage. After writing on the issue, the Kennedy School hired her to work at their Protection Project initiative in Washington D.C. Then Garber describes what happened next:

As we talked in her office, I watched her staff walking by in the hallway outside her door, and their serious and eager faces impressed me. She eventually said, "I get the most interesting applications here. Just imagine. Harvard University, Washington, D.C., human rights. It's a powerful combination, and it draws unusually gifted young women and men from the best universities in America."

But then she surprised me with these words, "After a few weeks they almost always find their way down the hall, knock on my door and ask to talk. Now, I know what they are going to say. After thanking me for the position and the opportunity, a bit awkwardly they ask, 'But who are we to say that trafficking is wrong in Pakistan? Isn't it a bit parochial for us to think that we know what is best for other people? Why is what is wrong for us wrong for them?' To be honest, I just don't have time for that question anymore. The issues we address are too real, they matter too much. I need more students like the one you sent me, because I need people who believe that there is basic right and wrong in the universe!"

AskMe #3007549 01/22/19 09:44 AM
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Matthew 7:7-8 New International Version (NIV)
7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Our Saviour, in the foregoing chapter, had spoken of prayer as a commanded duty, by which God is honoured, and which, if done aright, shall be rewarded; here he speaks of it as the appointed means of obtaining what we need, especially grace to obey the precepts he had given, some of which are so displeasing to flesh and blood. [Matthew Henry]



Robert Morgan writes that as President William McKinley lay dying from an assassin's bullet in Buffalo, New York, in 1901, the Lord's Prayer was on his lips. Prayer had been a lifelong practice that guided McKinley through his political career and into the presidency. McKinley had been born into a devout Christian home fifty-eight years before, and born again at age fourteen. According to his pastor, A. D. Morton, young McKinley stood up during a youth meeting and said, "I have sinned; I want to be a Christian ... I give myself to the Savior who has done so much for me."

McKinley's mother, a woman of deep prayer, taught him to pray by example and encouragement, but his greatest lessons in prayer were forged under the pressures of his duties as President of the United States. One of his heaviest decisions arose in 1898 regarding the status of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. One day, a delegation of church leaders came to the White House, and McKinley told them how he had decided to resolve the crisis in the Philippines.

"The truth is, I didn't want the Philippines," he said. "I did not know what to do. I sought counsel from all sidesDemocrats as well as Republicansbut got little help. I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight, and I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed Almighty God for light and guidance more than one night. And one night late it came to me this way."

McKinley relayed the strategy that developed in his mind as he prayed: that the Philippines should be taken seriously and helped, that the United States should "by God's grace do the very best we could by them as our fellow-men for whom Christ died." McKinley added, "And then I went to bed, and went to sleep and slept soundly."

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Mark 9:35 New International Version (NIV)
35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.

Jesus called upon His disciples not to place themselves first, but instead called them to be a servant to all. By being the least and the last they become the first important to the kingdom of heaven.



Aircraft carriers and cruise ships sail on blue oceans with immense reserves of power and degrees of freedom. One sort of ocean-going vessel is devoted to aggression and war, the other to comfort and leisure. Both, however, are massive, independent, floating islands of power. They navigate "strategically"based on large-scale charts, covering vast distances, driven by economic or military considerations.

Tugboats, on the other hand, are limited to a specific harbor. A tugboat master may be one of the highest paid individuals in the shipping industry, but only in one place. To be a tugboat is to be committed to a specific place and to know it intimately. Tugboats have to be nimble, maneuverable, and responsive to the slightest variation in the sea floor or the local currents. Tugboats are not especially impressive, mechanically or visually. But they are indispensable. Tugboats, you might say, are servants. They don't navigate for themselvesthey navigate to bring other ships safely to shore.

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