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Point of Reference

    by Fred Price

"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…" Romans 1:1 Considered by many to be the greatest missionary of Christianity and it's foremost theologian, writing thirteen books of the New Testament while being a focal point of the Book of Acts, he is known to have traveled extensively throughout Asia Minor, the Grecian Peninsula, Italy and possibly Spain (Romans 15:24) and Great Britain. Paul traveled tremendous distances, suffered many hardships, experiencing both success and opposition; yet he influenced the world in ways…  ( Click for more )

December 24, 2004

"…the people living in darkness have seen a great light; ..." Matthew 4:16

"A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on it's stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men,... Matthew 5:14-16

This time of year, we are especially drawn to light, as it gets dark earlier house and street lights are more noticeable; with a chill in the air, fireplaces radiate welcoming warmth. We decorate our homes in festive colors;…  ( Click for more )

December 17, 2004

This question was raised during a conversation between Jesus and his disciples in which they had discussed what others thought about him. A number of opinions were noted – some likening him to John the Baptist, others to Elijah, while a few were reminded of Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. But the real point of this exercise was brought to bear when Christ asked, "But what about you?... Who do you say I am?" Matthew 16:13-15

It's not that the contributions other people have made to your thinking and beliefs don't matter, whether they be parents, teachers, preachers…  ( Click for more )

"Jesus, we love You, we praise You, we adore You, Glorify Thy name in all the earth." Glorify Thy Name, Donna Adkins c1976,1981Maranatha! Music ARR ICS UBP

What's it mean to adore someone? Adoration is defined as worshipping or paying homage by expressing great love and devotion, usually in response to love and devotion expressed to us. Or as John said, "We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19; further explaining "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:20 We commonly…  ( Click for more )

In observance of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Nov. 14, my home church took a few moments to commemorate and pray for our fellow-believers around the world who live life much less securely and with few of the comforts we take for granted. Yet it wasn't until after the designated day of remembrance that I became aware of what that really means; an estimated 200 – 400 million people suffering – enduring discrimination when applying for jobs and promotions, being restricted in their freedom of movement and worship, losing their families and friendships…  ( Click for more )

November 26, 2004

Time Magazine recently featured as their cover-story, "The God Gene"F1; questioning whether religion is part of natures evolutionary scheme – documenting the scientific quest for the roots of our faith.

Philosophers, theologians and evangelists have long insisted that there is a God-space in us all, seeking satisfaction in a relationship with the Almighty. All over the globe, man has identified and worshipped God or gods in various ways; expressing a universal need to understand the unexplainable, discovering his place in the grand scheme of the world, finding answers and…  ( Click for more )

What does it mean to be thankful, to be filled with thanksgiving? Expressing appreciation and gratitude – which in part signifies our acknowledgement and acceptance of something having been done for us. And yet it is more than merely saying "Thanks". It should be an attitude we develop, not an emotional trait we inherit; one that is quick to acknowledge a blessing, slow to realize a slight, along with a willingness to actively look for the good in all things. (James 1:19) This can then become the basis for an intentional expression of worship through all things. "…since…  ( Click for more )

November 12, 2004

A continuing examination of the lives of Joseph (last week) and Esther (this week) – heroes of faith and action – remembering Romans 8:28 "…we know that in all things God works for the good of those how love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

ESTHER - A member of the "weaker sex," yet a strong arm of God and a means of salvation for her people. The story of Esther is recorded in ten short chapters in the Old Testament. Certainly not every incident, circumstance or emotion of hers is recorded but the essentials of her life are and…  ( Click for more )

November 5, 2004

A brief look at the lives of Joseph (this week) and Esther (next week) – heroes of faith and action – remembering Romans 8:28 "…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Does that statement ever confuse you? Does it maybe even irritate you a bit? Why? Bad things happen to us – surely that's not God's will. Why would God make or even allow bad things happen to good people?

We are never promised an easy, problem-free life as Christians; in fact, just the opposite. Jesus assures…  ( Click for more )

Two recently published studies lend credence to the concerns the church and your parents have expressed concerning who you spend time with and what you expose yourselves to through entertainment. Cataloging the behavior of young people and the influences that helped shape their actions, they corroborate the premise that who teens hang out with can and often does influence their decisions on sex, drugs and alcohol.1 These statistics go a long way in reinforcing the Bible's warning that, "Bad company corrupts good character."; even as it encourages us to, "Come back to your senses…,…  ( Click for more )

"…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,…" Romans 8:1

Be assured there will be. But why? Primarily because the value-systems of the world and the Christian are – or should be – so markedly different; causing tension, discord and strife. (John 15:18-20) Why can't we just mind our own business and let "them" do their thing while "we" do ours? Because if we really believe in the Christ of the cross and if indeed the gospel is correct, "they" are going to hell! Can we be unconcerned about that? Salvation is our gift from God,…  ( Click for more )

Historical allusions in sermons and songs never fail to pique my interest. 'You are my King'1 with its reference to a loving, self-sacrificing ruler is no exception. That image is hard to comprehend in today's political climate, rulers tending to take advantage of their positions of power, lording it over their subjects rather than using their influence to insure justice while promoting the common good of the people they are sworn to uphold and protect. (Matthew 20:25- Even the good one's falling prey at times to the allurements of unlimited power and privilege. See 2 Samuel…  ( Click for more )

Although we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:15,16) and perfect (Matthew 5:48), we are never said to be better than anyone – simply better than we were before. We are said to be saints (Colossians 1:12), a title we should aspire to while recognizing we are yet sinners (1 John 1:8) saved by grace. (Ephesians 2:8,9) That is where our distinctiveness is derived; as people who don't always get it absolutely right but who know the difference between right and wrong by virtue of our association with Jesus Christ, striving to do our best as defined by Him in His word.…  ( Click for more )

How's that?! I understand and applaud a God who, "…will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel…" (2 Thessalonians 1:8, see also 1 Peter 4:17b) But why judge me – a Christian – at all, let alone first? Amos gives us a clue as to why God holds us to a higher standard. Like the Israelites of old, we have been chosen, not on our merit but on God's ability to redeem and use us in spite of ourselves. To us has been revealed the God of the universe, whom we now represent to the world. (1 Peter 2:9) We should know better, thus…  ( Click for more )

September 17, 2004

"Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life? …obey the commandments. ….I have. What still do I lack?"

"If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

"When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth."

"I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. …it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. When the disciples heard this, they…  ( Click for more )

We touched on this topic a bit last week, but it can be so crucial to success that a little more time spent in consideration of this principle would be well-spent. Deciding who is acceptable as a counselor and who's counsel is best disregarded can be complicated and achieved primarily through experience. Jesus declared that wisdom is proved right by our actions. (Matthew 11:19); reinforcing Proverbs' injunction to, "Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise.." Proverbs 19:20 "Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,…' Proverbs 15:20 …  ( Click for more )

September 3, 2004

Now that you are away from home, for some in a way never before experienced and for others a continuation and broadening of freedoms gained only recently; let me encourage you to listen, learn but discern. The Bible encourages us to seek the counsel of many to assure success. "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." Proverbs 15:22 Even on the national level, strength in numbers is suggested. "For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure." Proverbs 11:14 Is this an admonition to listen to anything and everyone who offers…  ( Click for more )

Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,…" This includes your educational endeavors! Some people believe education and religion don't mix, espousing the confused notion that, 'Ignorance is bliss', 'All I need to know is what I know', 'What I don't know won't hurt me'; all of which tend to be cop-outs, embracing the idea that people can't be expected to address a problem they know nothing about, (even if it is an intentional ignorance) and fosters a certain pride in "foolishness". Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our…  ( Click for more )

Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech." I Peter 3:10

How important is it for us to control our tongues? Before you answer, think back on how much hurt, confusion, and damage you've experienced or seen in church, at school or work as a result of what someone has said. The good and bad achieved through the spoken word is at times surprising. "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing...this…  ( Click for more )

Who was Josiah? A righteous, God-fearing King of Judah; having become King at age eight. How much could one so young really know? He had to depend on what he was taught. Is that good or bad? It depends on what you do with those foundational teachings; at some point examining them closely, either accepting them as your own or rejecting them for something else. Gaining additional knowledge and increasing faith is your responsibility. Evidently Josiah did, it being said of him, "He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…" 2 Kings 22:2 Eighteen years after becoming King,…  ( Click for more )

August 6, 2004

Sometimes nothing more than making difficult decisions or intelligent choices. Some of you are on your own for the first time in your lives while others have been there for awhile, but we all have to deal with making good decisions and choosing the right path. The prospect of making up your own mind and choosing your own way, while exciting, isn't always as easy as it appears. What's involved here anyway? Anything that will test, try, or entice you to do or want what is wrong, forbidden or hurtful, qualifies as temptation. Anything that provokes or attracts, for not all sin is…  ( Click for more )

Jesus used parables to convey many of his deepest thoughts, using visual images from rural settings many in his audience lived in and could relate to. The parable of the sower is a good example of this technique. (Mark 4:1-20) It still resonates with people today whether they be farmers, backyard gardeners or city-folk tending flower boxes; addressing soil conditions and preparation in anticipation of planting.

Any experienced grower knows the fruitfulness of a crop depends largely on the receptivity of the soil; how it's been cultivated and maintained prior to planting. …  ( Click for more )

What's the difference? Websters defines a disciple as a pupil or follower of another's ideas and ideals, and a follower as an attendant, a servant, one that follows another's beliefs and teachings. Again! What's the difference? It's ultimately a matter of commitment, yet what a difference that can make. It would seem to be significant that the word "Disciple" is lifted pretty much whole and intact from the word "Discipline": training that develops self-control, orderliness, obedience in thought and deed; making self a part of something - not copying a routine, belief or habit…  ( Click for more )

Two weeks ago we attempted to answer that question in part by examining several instances of people caught up in sin – caught sinning – who reacted primarily in one of two ways. Sorrow that was superficial, immobilizing and counter-productive or deeply felt motivation for change. This week we will try to understand why some people become totally consumed by the consequences of their sin while others pick up the pieces – humbled – yet able to make a difference, finding inspiration in what they've been through.

Godly sorrow acknowledges God as the highest authority,…  ( Click for more )

Have you ever said "I'm sorry" because of circumstances that were beyond your control? What was your motivation? Fear, genuine sorrow for how things worked out, because you were expected to after being found out? Have you ever apologized because you knew you had done wrong - even when no one else had caught on yet? What was your motivation? Concern for the one wronged, regret, repentance? Realizing our need in sorrow can be a good gauge of our spiritual maturity; what we do with our lives afterward is a good indicator of our sincerity and understanding of God. "Godly sorrow…  ( Click for more )

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