Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
Strangers just don’t get the same deal as the in crowd. A few years ago I moved to a small town known somewhat for its exclusivity. I tried to blend. After purchasing gasoline for a couple of years at a particular station, the owner called me aside one day and said, “You’ve been living here for quite a while now. I’m going to start giving you the two cent per gallon discount I give the regular folks here!” Honestly I wouldn’t have known that I wasn’t a regular folk had he not told me; I thought I was one of them!
The word stranger as used ( Click for more )
Bulletin: New program unveiled to absolutely eliminate all crime! OK, it isn't exactly new, but it will work! The first time I heard of it was about fifty years ago when a comedian proposed, “Let's just make everything legal then there wouldn't be no more crime.” Good idea? Bad idea? You say no one would be so silly as to actually try to implement this idea. Where have you been? Pardon my smart mouth, but crawl out from under your rock and walk into the twenty-first century!
This solution has and is being proposed for such things as drugs, prostitution, the age of ( Click for more )
“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Colossians 2.16-17). This passage, though extremely technical in some aspects is also extraordinarily practical in application. Let me show you what I mean.
It is technical in that it contrasts two great theological systems. These systems are: 1) The system that prevailed from Moses to the coming of Christ's kingdom, and 2) The Christian system. The first was known for mundane ordinances regarding what ( Click for more )
Ruth’s reputation was admirable. Though she was a Moabitess, her kindness shown toward her mother-in-law was well known among the people of Israel. She could have opted to allow Naomi to return to her native land and no one would have thought the worse of her. Even Naomi’s thoughts on the matter were for her young daughters-in-law to remain in their homeland and remarry. But, Ruth was of a different mind. It was this attitude that led her to say to Naomi, “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever ( Click for more )
Truth is a controversial concept and word in our American culture. You can accuse me of being naïve, but I don't think it has always been that way. There have been times in which truth was a commodity that could actually be recognized. However, things have changed in the way our culture views truth. I probably am not smart enough to know why this has happened, but I believe I can see that it has.
Paul believed that the truth could be recognized and even handled. It was a commodity that could be identified and which had strict guidelines as to how one ought to treat it. For ( Click for more )
First steps are always an event to be remembered. Every baby album is almost certain to have photographs of baby’s first attempt to walk. These same snapshots will also contain, likely as not, one or more parents with outstretched arms encouraging the child to come to him/her. If it is a video, there will also be words of encouragement to assure the tike that mommy and/or daddy is there to catch him if he stumbles. Got the picture? Well keep it in mind as we explore today’s focus text.
Paul wrote to believers, “You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and ( Click for more )
Some rules have no exceptions! While it is true that some rules have exceptions, there are also some which have no exceptions. When God makes a rule (law), I cannot depend on that rule having an exception unless He has stated that to be the case. A few examples are in order: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3.3). “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 16.6).“No one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son ( Click for more )
Talking to things is not as uncommon as we like to make it seem. I know I sometimes talk to cars that cut me off in traffic. I also talk to cats that cross my path as well as to checkbooks that do not keep up with my spending habits. There have even been a few times when I have talked to a hammer when it maliciously smashed my thumb!
Jonah was more than a thing, but God spoke to Him. He told Jonah to go preach to the people of Nineveh, but Jonah rebelled. His rebellion soon endangered the lives of his shipmates who were innocently drawn into the story. Soon Jonah found himself ( Click for more )
"I taught that class everything I know and they are still way below average!" This tongue-in-cheek one liner, or variants of it, have brought smiles for a long time. After all, if I impart all I know to someone else about a given subject and that person's level of understanding is still below par, is it the student or the teacher who is to blame? Lifting someone to my level may be a reality, but it just might not be a point of pride; it all depends on where I am on the scale! Today's message deals with someone lifting another person up and the amazing result.
We begin ( Click for more )
Glory is a legitimate English word, but when was the last time you heard it in day-to-day conversation? If you are a classic movie buff, you might recall Katharine Hepburn's role in a 1933 drama, Morning Glory. Or if you love flowers, especially those that thrive in poor soil and without special care, the Morning Glory might be one with which you are familiar. Besides these usages though, the word glory has little use in our common speech. Perhaps that's the reason for today's message; there is an aspect of Jesus that we miss if we do not understand the concepts inherent in the word ( Click for more )
Mere man cannot stand in the presence of Holy God. The contrast is so stark that it cannot be described nor fully understood by our finite minds. Moses was allowed to see a portion of God’s glory, but the effects of the event were such that the people who saw Moses later could not even look directly upon his face (see 2 Corinthians 3 for a fuller account). Both physically and spiritually there is such a gulf between God and man that a “bridge” is required to span this infinite gap. Jesus is that bridge even as today’s focus text assures us. You are invited ( Click for more )
Just to verify the facts, I looked at the web site of a brand name ice cream retailer. I was right! Ice cream comes in an infinite number of flavors and combinations. There is fat free, sugar free, dairy free, reduced fat, sorbet, light, yogurt, churned, ad infinitum (but not ad nauseam!). Words are like ice cream, they also come in all flavors and combinations. In fact, almost every great thought that has ever been communicated to another person has been conveyed with words. But on the other hand, so has almost every not-so-great thought. Today's devotional will take a look at a ( Click for more )
“Try it; you'll like it!” I don't know who first said these words. I do know that a well known antacid product used this catchphrase in some old TV commercials. I also know that a number of people know the success of such advertising. That is why it is commonplace to see samples of food being given away in grocery stores and mall food court areas. Their hope is simple: Take a bite and you will want more. “Try it; you'll like it!
Consider the following text and the “Try it; you'll like it” approach: “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, ( Click for more )
Classroom note taking was not something I learned before graduating from high school. That is not to say it wasn't taught or that I shouldn't have learned to take notes, just that I didn't. I learned to write notes and pass notes to fellow students, but not how to take class notes. However, in work after high school, I learned the value of hearing and transcribing at least a part of what the instructor said. One point that became obvious was this: When an instructor repeats a statement, especially if it is repeated a number of times, it is important and will be on the test!
It ( Click for more )
“Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” (Psalm 2.1-3).
The second Psalm had a specific objective, namely the foretelling of certain aspects of the Messiah's reign. It is quoted repeatedly in the New Testament with that explicit fulfillment in view (see Acts 13, Hebrews 1, and others). Among other things, the second Psalm foretold the fact that ( Click for more )
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1.29).
There are so many, many wondrous parts of this passage that it is difficult to choose the one on which to focus. For instance, we could direct our attention toward the fact that the word sin is singular in the passage. Jesus takes away the sin of the world. The world surely has more that one sin, but he spoke of the cumulative total of all sin in the singular. Jesus takes away the totality of all the sins that have been committed ( Click for more )
Soundbites are just that, soundbites. They do not an entire meal describe! They are a small sample of one ingredient that was used in the recipe of one item of a seven course meal! The title of today's message, Religion is Useless is a sound bite; moreover, it is an example of how very wrong we can be when we isolate one fragment of what has been said on a subject and treat it as though it were all that was said!
Here's the text from which this soundbite is taken: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word ( Click for more )
Dirt isn’t always obvious. Sometimes it hides behind a young boy’s ears; ask any mother! Sometimes it masquerades as wholesome and clean. The biblical writers frequently wrote from a perspective that seems a bit odd to us, especially as we adapt and conform to the world around us. James warned about dirt, dirt that can soil and damage our spiritual existence. The dirt about which he warned was not of the ordinary type, the type that hides behind boy’s ears; the dirt of which he warned was a more insidious type and capable of far greater harm. As we continue our look ( Click for more )
Some biblical texts are richer than others in practical and meaningful applications. For instance, it takes some effort on my part to get a practical lesson from, “Of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan; Of Melicu, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph; Of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai; Of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam;” (Nehemiah 12.13-16). Don't get me wrong, there is a practical lesson there, but it takes work to see it. Some passages aren't like that; the gems are exposed without so much as a spade to turn over the surface soil! Today's message and the two ( Click for more )
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because 'All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever.' Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1.22-25).
Jesus gave commandment to His ( Click for more )
What do you know? What do you really know? Do you know God? Do you really know God? Are you aware that there are several ways of knowing God, but only one of them results in eternal bliss? Today’s message will note a few ways that the Bible speaks of knowing God and distinguish between the futile ways and the true way of knowing Him.
Concerning the Gentile nations, Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they [the ( Click for more )
We could start this message with the age-old question, “What’s in a name?” Or, perhaps it would be better to just wait and let events reveal the larger question: “Must I let circumstances decide who I am?”
“Now the two of them [Naomi and Ruth] went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, ‘Is this Naomi?’ But she said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went ( Click for more )
What is the Bible? Is it, as some claim, man’s record of his attempts to find God? Or, is it something entirely different, i.e. God’s means by which He revealed Himself to man?
Surely there is a world of difference in how one treats the Bible based upon how it is perceived. These various perceptions are the basis for the tremendous differences in how we as human beings respond to the Bible. Not so long ago, I worked with a man who was fond of referring to Jesus and His apostles as JC and his boys! As an atheist, he used this phrase for its shock value. However, had ( Click for more )
Here’s a logic test for you. God said, “When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.” (Isaiah 1.15). A spokesperson for God said, “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.” (Proverbs 34.15). Given that both of the above statements are accurately quoted and can be trusted as truthful, what can you know about the people to whom God was speaking in the first passage?
If my thinking is correct, I believe that we can ( Click for more )
How can mortal man comment on such a lofty concept? What can be written that has not already been said in more eloquent or understandable terms? What possible light can a frail one such as I shed on such a gigantic source of illumination? Some passages only beg to be exposed to the heart and mind and let the power of God take it from there. Today’s focus text is one such verse; our efforts will be limited to merely opening the passage before your eyes and allowing God to speak to you through that process.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld ( Click for more )
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