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“BUT GOD”

The Book of Ephesians is divided up into two sections—the first three chapters are doctrinal and the last three chapters are practical—and that order is no mistake! Paul realized that doctrine must always precede duty because—Christian living depends on Christian learning.
 
The believer who does not know his or her wealth in Christ will never be able to live for Christ. In Ephesians chapter two Paul wants to tell us some of the wonderful blessings that God has given to us now that we are in Christ. But before he talks about what God did for us—he first talks about what sin did to us.
 
Or in other words the predicament we found ourselves in before we received Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
 
Ephesians 2:1-3 (NKJV)
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
 

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The Power of the Tongue

We all remember the proverb growing up, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”  Our parents taught us to say that to the kids who were making fun out of us by calling us names.
 
As a kid I tried using that tip several times as a defense against the mean words that some directed at me—but I have to be honest, it really didn’t stop the pain of those hurtful words.  As I got older and reflected on that saying a little, I came to realize that, although our parents meant well, the reason their advice didn’t help to stop the pain of unkind words is because—that saying isn’t true!
 
While it’s true that sticks and stones can inflict physical pain and may even break a bone or two—those wounds usually heal without any lasting effects. But an unkind word spoken carelessly or in a moment of anger—well, that can wound for a lifetime.
 
That’s why the psalmist prayed—
 
Psalm 64:2-3 (NKJV) Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity, Who sharpen their tongue like a sword, And bend their bows to shoot their arrows–bitter words.
 

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The Importance of Fathers

This coming Sunday is ‘Father’s Day’—a day we set aside each year to honor our nation’s fathers and their contribution to the family unit. Unfortunately, fathers are not appreciated as they once were in our country and their contributions in childrearing, especially when it comes to raising their sons—has fallen on ‘hard-times.’
 
I admit that much of the criticism directed at dads today is ‘self-inflicted’.
 
In other words, it has been ‘earned’ by many fathers in their failure to be good role models for their children, good providers, faithful and loving husbands to their wives (which has a huge impact on children and their emotional development) and godly leaders in the home (if they haven’t abandoned their families and their responsibilities in the home all-together).

Yet society at large has greatly helped to denigrate and destroy the institution of fatherhood in the minds of many—which hasn’t motivated men to be better fathers either.

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The Resurrection of A Nation

Today, is the 71st birthday of the modern State of Israel.
 
Last year, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of this joyous occasion—President Donald Trump moved our embassy to Jerusalem. In doing this, the United States of America officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel!  The rebirth—or more precisely the ‘resurrection’ of the nation of Israel was prophesied in the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel chapter 37.
 
In this chapter, God is prophesying that Israel will become a nation again in the last days.
 
Ezekiel 37:12–14 (NKJV) Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’ ”
 

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Lessons From The Empty Tomb

This Sunday, we will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
 
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single greatest event in the history of the world—and the cornerstone of the Christian faith. In fact, it is so foundational to Christianity that anyone who denies the physical, bodily resurrection of Christ cannot be a genuine Christian—because it is an essential doctrine of the Christian faith (built on Scripture) for salvation.
 
You see, without the resurrection there is no Christian faith, no salvation—and no hope for man.
 
As Paul the Apostle said, “If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is useless, your faith is meaningless, we are still in our sins, those who have died believing in Christ are lost and we are of all men the most pathetic. We might as well eat, drink, and be merry for there is nothing more to life than this.”
 
However Paul went on to say, “But now Christ is risen from the dead and is the first fruits from the grave of those who have died believing in Jesus.”
 

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Be Transformed By The Renewing of Your Mind

 
 
Ephesians 4:17 (NKJV) This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind.
 
Here Paul is admonishing believers to stop living the old life of sin like unbelievers who do so because of the “futility of their mind”—and to start living new lives of holiness and purity for God. The phrase “futility of their mind” means the “empty-headedness of worldly thinking”.
 
The Bible teaches that the power to live a changed life comes from the Holy Spirit working thru a changed (clean) heart. But David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart—O God because he knew he couldn’t create a clean heart in himself. We don’t have the power to change our hearts—but we do have the power to change our minds.
 
That’s what the word “repent” literally means in the Greek—“to have a change of mind”. If I stop thinking that certain behaviors that God condemns in His Word are okay.
 
If I stop justifying sinful activities and old habits—in other words, if I change my mind, God will change my heart. And a changed heart always leads to a changed life! Paul is telling us here in Ephesians 4 that the main difference between Christians and non-Christians—is in the way they think.
 

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Behold I Will Do A New Thing

Today, we stand at the beginning of a new year.  What makes a new year special is the fact that it’s, well,—NEW!!
 
Every New Year brings with it new hope—hope that in this new year God will make things in our lives new in the sense of new opportunities, new strength for victory over old sins, a new relationship perhaps if you’re single—in short the hope that this new year will be a better year than last year.  And if that is your hope for this new year—you will be happy to know that you are on solid biblical ground!
 
I say that because we serve a God who is constantly wanting to do new things in the lives of His people.
 
This was something God promised His people Israel, in Isaiah 43 when the nation was in captivity in Babylon because of their sins and things looked like God had abandoned them. You can imagine how the people felt forsaken by Him and the future looked bleak and hopeless—

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The War on Christmas

Well, after taking a few years off—I see that the war on Christmas is back.That the “Grinches” are back who want to do away with Christmas—or at least downplay it to the point that it is no longer recognizable. For example:
  • Many retailers have instructed their employees to no longer say “Merry Christmas” but instead to say something generic like “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings.”
  • Many companies won’t allow their employees to put up a Manger or to even have a small one displayed on their desk.
  • Many employers have instructed their employees that they can’t give one another Christmas cards containing any “religious” themes as they might be offensive to some.
 
Of course, one of the main areas where we see this anti-Christmas,  political correctness being promoted is in public schools across our nation.
 

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Revive Us Oh Lord

 
We are just a week away from the mid-term elections—which many believe to be the most important mid-terms of our life-time.
 
Many Americans who are discontent or even angry with the president over his rhetoric and policy positions are saying, “We need a change”, “we need a change if our country is going to be put on the right track…”
 
I hear many people saying, “We need a change”—but I don’t hear many saying, “We need to change!”  I believe that, as a nation, what we really need more than a change in leadership is a change of heart.
 
It’s true this country desperately needs a change in direction—but direction away from sin and back to God—in other words what we really need is national repentance and revival! 

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Walk In Wisdom

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Ephesians 5:15-16 (NKJV) See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
 
The Greek word translated circumspectly in verse 15 carries with it the idea of “precision and accuracy”—but also has the idea of looking, examining, and investigating something with great care. But this Greek word further includes with it the idea of alertness
 
.So, Paul is telling us, “See that you walk (live) your Christian life carefully with great precision—looking all around and giving strict attention to all things as one might do when passing through a very dangerous place.” (As when walking thru a mine field)

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