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All in All

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Scripture:
Col. 3:5   Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. 7 These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. 8 But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10 and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11 In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
Observation:
This message is for those who have come to know Christ and have been made new. In baptism we rise again to newness of life, the old is gone, the new has come. John Chrysostom gives us this illust…

The Tongue on Fire

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Scripture:
James 3:5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.  How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8 but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.
Observation:
Reading through this passage we have been reminded that just a small bridle can turn a great horse. The tiny rudder is what makes a ship go in the right direction. Now, we turn to the subject of the tongue. Obviously the tongue itself can do nothing, but it is…

The Epicurean and Disney

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Scripture:
Proverbs 21:17Whoever loves pleasure will suffer want; whoever loves wine and oil will not be rich.
Observation:
Some have said that this verse speaks of the dangers of an Epicurean life-style. What does that mean? Generally we have attributed this to the teaching of Epicurus, a philosopher who was born in 341 BC. He encouraged people to find a static state of pleasure where one was satiated — or full. When the pleasures have been completely, or entirely satisfied, then one feels full. Later Epicurean societies adopted a motto: Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo ("I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care”). In contemporary society this phrase has been adopted to be used at humanist funerals, or to be carved as an epitaph on a headstone.
The problem is that they don’t understand what Wisdom was trying to say. Pleasure alone would ultimately leave one wanting. The Epicurean life of rich foods and drink, as well as the investment in oils and cosmetics could not be sustained. T…

Thinking About the Storm

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This satellite image was captured around 1:45 p.m. ET Wednesday. NOAA/STAR https://media.npr.org/assets/img/2018/09/12/flo-2p20182551747_goes16-abi-conus-geocolor-2500x1500_wide-1d7c7bd2b53c036f70f10042ab35160a3e3e739e-s1600-c85.jpg

Scripture:
Psa. 19:0   To the leader. A Psalm of David. 1The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Psa. 19:14   Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Observation:
When we stop and think about the world around us; as we gaze up into the sky, we are overwhelmed by the power and strength of God’s creation. The heavens declare God’s glory and power. When we look at the earth; the beauty and the rich variety of all that we experience on a daily basis, how can we think of anything but God.
The Psalmist would take time to meditate and think on the things of God’s creation. These became a part of his declaration of praise and worship to God. His prayer was …

Did You Bring Your Appetite?

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Scripture:
Proverbs 15:17Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it.
Observation:
The guests are invited to dinner but the host is concerned that there is little to offer. Without the financial resources of the wealthy, they are unable to kill a fatted ox and can only serve vegetables. While some may be discouraged by this, wisdom tells us that the satisfaction depends upon the appetite of the guest. If the guests who are invited are hungry, then even a small meal will be enjoyed and received with gratitude. They will experience the love of the host who was willing to share all he had with his guests.
Application:
I was born in Germany where my parents served as missionaries. It seems that our financial resources were often limited, and yet, there was an endless supply of guests at our table. Not only did we have our dear German friends gathering with us at the table, but also many visitors from other countries who would stop by, wanting to see “t…

Honest Scales

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Scripture:
Proverbs 11:1
A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but an accurate weight is his delight.
Observation:
The people who sold goods in the market had their own weights with them. They were used on the scales to balance the amount of an item being sold to someone. However, to make more money, sometimes those salespersons made sure that their weights were not quite the total weight. In this way they could sell less for a higher cost. They were cheating the consumer. God saw this as an abomination. They were to deal justly and fairly with the customers, and when doing so, God would see this and delight.
Application:
Isn’t it fascinating that God would delight in an accurate weight? I think it says a great deal about God and a sense of justice. We can just imagine that the salesmen in the market with two sets of weights, one for his friends, and another set for the customers whom he was choosing to rip off. Although, there may even have been times that he ripped off his fr…

Something Better

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Scripture:
Heb. 11:39   Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
Observation:
The great Faith Chapter in Hebrews reminds us of those who have gone before. They have suffered through persecutions and struggles, and yet, they have persevered. We are presented with a vision of a stadium which is filled with spectators, those who have already completed their challenge, and are cheering on the current generation. It’s a vision of an event which is not yet completed, because not everyone has participated. They haven’t received the reward — or awards — yet, because the entire event must come to completion, or be made perfect.
That means that our lives are directly connected to their lives. We are a part of a community of faith that stretches throughout the ages and we are interconnected in a powerful way. This was the “something better” — of be…

Showing Favoritism

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Scripture:
James 2:1-4
My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
Observation:
Obviously James sees favoritism as a real problem because he finds it hard to believe that you can believe in Jesus and love some people more than others. The church was growing and developing and those who were a part of that community were drawn toward the “more pleasant” visitors, than others. The problem was that they were making distinctions between the people. This distinction was actually judgement, valuing some people over others. 
This judgement showed th…

The Driving Force of the Heart

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Scripture:
Prov. 4:23Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. 24Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. 25Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. 26Keep straight the path of your feet, and all your ways will be sure. 27Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.
Observation:
Whatever springs from the heart becomes the driving force for life. That’s why this proverb reminds us that we have to guard our hearts. Far too many people and influences want to have control of the heart because we know that the motivating factor in life is transformative. This proverb was written far before the time of Christ, or the power of the Holy Spirit. At this point, all that they could do was study the laws of God, and strive to follow God in all things. This instruction just might make a difference in their lives because the more that they studied and absorbed the things of God, the more …

Learning from our Elders

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Scripture:
Prov. 1:8   Hear, my child, your father’s instruction, and do not reject your mother’s teaching; 9for they are a fair garland for your head, and pendants for your neck.
Observation:
The proverbs give us excellent practical advice for daily life. Children are to listen to and obey their parents. This instruction is so helpful for life that it becomes as beautiful as an adornment that one might wear.
Application:
I spent a few minutes of my morning with my granddaughters who are three and nineteen months. Usually they are such a joy in the mornings, full of sunshine and smiles, but not today. The girls are a bit tired this morning because they were up a little late last night and the older one awakened a little too early. That means that today has a few more challenges than the average day, and some buttons that are easily pushed. I watched on as my daughter told her oldest that she had two options for some quiet time this morning. Neither one of those options was seen as favorable…

Training for the Big Event

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Scripture:
1Tim. 4:6   If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness, 8 for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
Observation:
Training in physical and spiritual self-discipline was a part of the discipleship plan for the Apostle Paul. Timothy was to take all that he had learned, apply it to his own life, and then serve as an example for others. The big event was transformational life in Christ.
Application:
This morning my husband and I went to gym…

Bearing Loving Fruit

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Scripture:
John 15:16-17 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
Observation:
Jesus is speaking to his disciples and they are charged to love one another, and to bear fruit. There seems to be a connection between love and fruit bearing, for when the plant is fed by holy love, it bears fruit that will last. Whatever is needed for tending the fruit is available from the Father, we simply need to ask. All of this is to be done so that Jesus’ disciples will love one another. 
Application:
I would guess that many of us might feel uncomfortable with the idea that Jesus has appointed us to go and bear fruit. Some older translations used the word ordained and therefore some would view this as a calling which would only be embraced by those called to the ministry. However, I don’t think that’s what Jesus is d…

We All Need a Good Friend

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Scripture:
Eph. 6:21   So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus will tell you everything. He is a dear brother and a faithful minister in the Lord. 22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, to let you know how we are, and to encourage your hearts.
Eph. 6:23   Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Observation:
Tychicus appears in Paul’s writings five times, a couple of times being referred to as “a dear brother and faithful minister.” Later, one of the early church historians lists him as one of the 70 disciples sent out by Jesus. It may well have been in that early ministry with Jesus that he accepted his role as one who would be sent out frequently to strengthen the growing work of the church. Whether by Paul’s side, or sent on his behalf, Tychicus faithfully supported the work and his friend, Paul.
Application:
When I th…

The Kingdom and Evangelism

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Scripture:
1 Kings 8:41-43
“Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land because of your name —for they shall hear of your great name, your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm—when a foreigner comes and prays toward this house, then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and so that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.
Observation:
This prayer of Solomon is prophetic and thought-provoking. During his dedication of the temple he includes an evangelistic prayer for the foreigners who will come and visit his land. Solomon believes that God will do great and powerful things in Israel and that people will come from far and wide just to see for themselves the ways in which God is at work. 
He prays that when the foreigners arrive that they will be so inspired tha…