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Those Who Suffer

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Scripture:
Revelation 7:13-17
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Observation:
Suffering is never anything that we like to talk about. Yet, here in the book of Revelation, John notes that there are those who are robed in white, who are standing before the throne of God. They have suffered for their faith, …

Misguided Advice

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Scripture:
Job 11:13-15
“If you direct your heart rightly, you will stretch out your hands toward him. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and do not let wickedness reside in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure, and will not fear.
Observation:
Job’s friend, Zophar tries to give him advice. Zophar believes that Job is being punished for something that he has done wrong and is now suggesting a solution. I’m afraid that many people would find this advice plausible, and may even have been given this kind of suggestion. The problem is that the central focus of salvation becomes Job. There is no savior here, but only a human being who is supposed to get things right on their own power. 
Zophar tells Job to get his heart right, because obviously it was wrong if bad things happened to him. However, that’s simply not the case. Job had been a good and righteous man, he hadn’t done anything to deserve what had happened to him. 
The friend tells J…

Grace Outpoured

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Scripture:
Hebrews 4:15-16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Observation:
The image of a stern, unforgiving God is wiped away in this description of Jesus, our high priest. Because Jesus has lived in the flesh, he is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. Jesus fully comprehends what it’s like to live in a physical body and all of the accompanying temptations. He lived victoriously, refusing to succumb to the temptations of life. 
This same Jesus is our high priest, the one who intercedes for us to the Father. His sympathy for us can be seen in the grace which flows to all of humanity. We don’t need to live in fear of approaching the throne of God, because of Christ’s compassion and grace. In our lowest moment, grace is outpoured and …

The Currency of Wealth

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Scripture:
Luke 16:14   The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. 15 So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.
Observation:
Jesus had just finished the parable about the good manager who had been honest in all of his dealings. Not only was he honest, but he was fair and just. Finally Jesus concluded by saying that those who could be trusted with little would be trusted with much, but that those who were dishonest with little, could not be trusted. If the goal of someone was to become wealthy at the expense of others, by dishonest means, then they could not be trusted to manage the kingdom of God. This made the Pharisees very angry because they knew that he was talking about them. They loved their money and were pleased to make it any way possible. Obviously they had learned to justify their actions and were fe…

If You Belong to Christ

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Scripture:
Galatians 3:28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
Observation:
This passage from Paul’s epistle to the Galatians is frequently quoted and used to remind us of the unity which is found when we belong to Christ. Any barriers that may have existed are to be brought down. The power of prejudice is to be destroyed and a new life is to be found when one belongs to Christ.
Jerome put it this way, “ When one has once put on Christ and, having been sent into the flame, glows with the ardor of the Holy Spirit, it is not apparent whether he is of gold or silver. As long as the heat takes over the mass in this way there is one fiery color, and all diversity of race, condition and body is taken away by such a garment.” (EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS 2.3.27–28) What happens is that the former…

Leadership So Good, Lives are Transformed

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Scripture:
Esth. 8:15   Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king, wearing royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a mantle of fine linen and purple, while the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. 16 For the Jews there was light and gladness, joy and honor. 17 In every province and in every city, wherever the king’s command and his edict came, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a festival and a holiday. Furthermore, many of the peoples of the country professed to be Jews, because the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.
Observation:
The king is not the one who represents the good leader in Esther’s story. Instead, it’s her uncle, Mordecai. Throughout his life he is faithful and does the right thing. Even in very difficult circumstances, Mordecai finds a way to remain faithful and the result is that the king places the mantle of positional leadership on Mordecai’s shoulders.
The leadership of Mordecai foreshadows the coming of the Messiah. Leaving …

Don’t be Fooled by Pleasant Words

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(Photo From https://patriotpost.us/articles/41127-wont-get-fooled-again

Scripture:
Esther 5:14 Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows fifty cubits high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged on it; then go with the king to the banquet in good spirits.” This advice pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made.
Observation:
Haman spent time with his wife and other friends who kept reinforcing his opinions. Nobody was willing to suggest that he had a bad idea and so they fed his ego and his thoughts. He hatched a plan. If Mordecai was so despised, why not guild a gallows on which to hang him? 
Haman had been invited to a banquet by Queen Esther and this made him feel assured that he was a significant part of the inner circle. It also gave him the false confidence that he was more powerful than he actually was. That’s why it was so easy to embrace advice that made him feel good. His wife and friends were simply pleasing Haman and being s…