ustard eed

Vol.1 No. 1 January 2008

Just Pondering...

What Matters Most:

WHAT IS

LIFE?
Some have said in words and in song, "Life is just a bowl of cherries." Others while in a more downcast mood have said, "Life is the pits." Is life as meaningless as a 'bowl of cherries'? Or is it to be lived to it's fullest because it means something?

Achievement or

Goodness
By Brian Knowles

In ultimate terms, no one can be
classified as absolutely good. Even Jesus, who was absolutely good, in his humility, said, “Why do you call me good? There is none good but God” (Matthew 19:17). As the writer of Ecclesiastes observed, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). We are not speaking in ultimate terms here, but in relative ones. It is possible to be relatively good, as opposed to utterly evil. Enter the Child A baby is born morally neutral. It is neither good nor evil. Evil is as evil does. To be evil, one has to do evil. To be good, one has to do good. A newborn baby has done nothing. Yet at some point, a child grows up and can Next page…

J

ust what is life? Or perhaps it should be asked, "Why are we alive?" Is

there ANY purpose to life? Do we just live a few years and then die and that's
the end of it? Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions? Have you been puzzled, especially during very difficult periods, as to why you were alive in the first place? Hopefully, this article will help you to a better understanding of life and what is it's real purpose. Perhaps you might even be edified and lifted up by it. Let's pray these statements are true.We are not here at this time to argue the "religionevolution" battle, but do want to try to explain what life is, or more precisely, what life is all about. (continued on page 3) 1

What matters… be described as “evil” or “good.” Jesus himself used this terminology when he said, “He [God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45b). There is a parallelism here: good = righteous, evil = unrighteous. Somewhere between birth and becoming good or evil, a person makes decisions, based on acquired values, which way he or she will go. He or she then establishes a track record of behaviors that result in one becoming one or the other. Of course many people are neither wholly good nor utterly evil, but a mixture of both. Ultimately, what a person becomes in God’s estimation is based upon the values adopted throughout life. If we pull our values from the prevailing culture, we may end up valuing art more than morality, accomplishment more than goodness. I once knew a woman who valued intelligence more than goodness. Her highest compliment to a person was, “You’re so smart!” Eventually she found a smart, wealthy man whom she seduced away from his wife, thus alienating his children from two previous marriages from him and from her. She eventually moved in with him, sharing in his wealth, and basking in his “smartness.” In her wake, she had left a trail of tears and heartbreak. She had no conscience problems with that, because she had been true to her value system: intelligence trumped goodness. The ancient Greeks valued beauty more than goodness. If a

child was born deformed, ugly or sick, they often abandoned it on a hilltop to die. They wanted only beautiful children. Dennis Prager writes, “One of the Holocaust’s most important lessons is that the most cultured nation in Europe produced the death camps and the gas chambers. People often ask how the nation that produced Goethe, Schiller, and Beethoven could produce Auschwitz. But the question betrays the questioner’s belief in art as a generator of morality. A nation that produces great artists is no less likely to commit atrocities than one that produces great athletes” (Think a Second Time, p. 215). Prager then describes the fact that Auschwitz had a resident orchestra and a commandant who was an accomplished pianist “who would spend his nights playing Schubert after having supervised the torture and gassing of thousands of people during the day” (ibid.). Art is not character. Intelligence and achievement are not goodness. I would rather be married to a good woman (I am), than a woman of great accomplishment. I value goodness more than achievement. I know that people who value beauty, art, accomplishment and intelligence above goodness can easily turn their talent to evil, as did the Greeks, as did the Germans. It really does come down to values. Dennis Prager also writes: “The most fundamental teaching of ethical monotheism is that any value, no matter how meaningful or beautiful, when divorced from goodness and God, can easily lead to evil. Put in theological terms, any value that becomes an end in 2

itself can easily become a false god” (Prager, p. 214, emphasis his). Forming Values in the Next Generations If my wife and I had young children today, we would raise them to value values more than achievement. We would teach them that one good deed—a single act of kindness—trumps winning a baseball pennant, a soccer game, or earning a trophy in a spelling B. We would explain that a man who sacrifices his life to save the lives of others is a greater man than one who wins a Nobel or Pulitzer Prize, or an Oscar. A Mother Theresa, who lived amidst the heat, flies, sickness, poverty and squalor of India to minister to people whom to her were religious “strangers,” is nobler than a person whose highest value is merely making money or accumulating political power for their own sake. We would tell our children of a woman named Dorcas (Tabitha) whom God raised from the dead that she might continue her good works—deeds of kindness in which she provided clothing for those who needed it (cf. Acts 9:36-42, Matthew 25:36 - 40). Achievement with Goodness If one’s highest value is goodness, then all that one achieves will be turned to good in the world. If one’s highest values are smartness, accomplishment, beauty, power, wealth, honor and awards, then goodness can be lost in the shuffle and the door to evil thrown wide open, as it was in Nazi Germany. It is possible to be moved to tears by great art, soaring music, and wonderful acting. But emotional gratification and uplift

through art can result in moral desensitization. It can result in detachment from the real world, with its sufferings and needs. What begins as a momentary escape can grow into a consuming, diverting obsession. Once goodness ceases to be a person’s most important concern, the categories of good and evil are downgraded into practical oblivion.

If goodness is maintained as one’s primary value, then all one achieves will colored by that reality. In the world of natural man, many things are valued above goodness: art for art’s sake, intelligence, achievement, ideology, politics, power, wealth, honor, recognition, education etc. etc. But as Dennis Prager writes, “It is one

of life’s ironies that once a person dies, most of these accomplishments mean little to others. Every eulogy I have ever heard emphasized, when possible, the goodness of the deceased far more than professional achievements. It’s sad that it usually takes death to clarify what is most important in life” (Think a Second Time, p. 231).

What is Life…? (From page 1)
Scripture says that "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen. 1:1) At some time in the past, God created all things and did it by and through the one who became Jesus. "In the beginning (of material things) was The Word, and The Word was WITH God and The Word WAS God." "The same was in the beginning with God." "All things were made by Him (by The Word) and without Him was not anything made that was made." (John 1:1-3) "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not." "He came to His own and His own received Him not." "But as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name." (John 1:10-12) God has a plan and a purpose for mankind. That plan and purpose has been misunderstood by most for centuries. However, in this end time He has allowed some to understand and teach about that plan. Jesus came to earth bringing a message, good news (gospel) of The Kingdom of God. He taught who can enter that Kingdom and how they can enter that Kingdom. Remember that a Kingdom has a king, a territory, laws, and subjects. WHO Can Enter God's Kingdom? "No man can come to Me, except The Father who has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44) Those whom God calls can come to Jesus, accept His sacrifice, repent of their sins, be submerged into His death by baptism, and receive God's Holy Spirit (which is a token payment on eternal life). HOW Can They Enter That Kingdom? "To them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life." (Romans 2:7) (We don't have immortality yet, do we?) 3 Patient continuance in well doing? You mean we have to do something other than "just believe?" Yes. The scriptures are rife with statements that point to our having to do "well-doing". Now wait a minute! We didn't say one could work his way into the Kingdom of God! Read a few paragraphs up beginning with "Those whom God calls" and see what is required. After this gift, we then MUST continue in "well-doing". We must have an attitude of obedience to God or He will not give us His Holy Spirit. Read Acts 5:32: "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is also The Holy Spirit, whom God HATH GIVEN TO THEM THAT OBEY HIM." Yep....obedience is necessary before God will give anyone His Holy Spirit! Not MY words! HIS WORDS! Do you believe Him? I hope so for the sake of your eternal lives!! Now what is this human life that God has given us? We're not talking about how we are sustained. That is a subject for another article. What we are talking about is what we must do with this life! "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before

you LIFE and DEATH, blessing and cursing: therefore CHOOSE LIFE that both you and your seed may live;" (Deut. 30:19) Yes! God has set before us a CHOICE! It is something we must choose and God wants us to choose life! However, IT IS OUR CHOICE when He calls us! We are to choose a DIFFERENT WAY OF LIFE than we have been living. That is called REPENTANCE. We have to DO SOMETHING! We have to TURN AWAY FROM OUR OLD LIFE and TURN TO A DIFFERENT KIND OF LIFE. Where we had been living a life of SIN, we turn away from sin and begin to live a righteous life. It is something WE MUST DO! And God gives us His Holy Spirit to HELP us to lead that life. After we have made that choice to live a righteous life, God then begins to set before us CHOICES that we must make. He also allows others to set before us choices. We are torn and pulled by our wanting to live for the flesh, but we MUST decide to live for the Spirit if we want to be IN GOD'S KINGDOM! LIFE IS CHOICES! THAT'S WHAT LIFE IS! This life is COMPOSED OF CHOICES that we must make to show our attitude toward God and His Way of Life. Our choices build OUR CHARACTER, and God wants us to build the kind of character He has. And yet righteous character cannot be given by fiat, or Royal Decree, because character is LEARNING TO MAKE RIGHT CHOICES. He wants us to have that MIND that was in Christ Jesus. That mind of righteous thinking, of making right choices! So what is RIGHTEOUSNESS? "My tongue shall speak of thy Word: FOR ALL THY COMMANDMENTS ARE RIGHTEOUSNESS." (Ps. 119:172) An attitude of obedience to God's Laws and Commandments will create in us a righteous attitude. One that causes us to think as God thinks, and this is accomplished through the power of God's Holy Spirit! Yes. God has set before us life and death. The choice before us is whether we will believe Him and obey His Commandments, or believe some man who says that God's commandments have been done away and there is nothing required of us but "just believing." Obedience to God IS righteousness.

IF YOU BELIEVE GOD, YOU WILL WANT TO OBEY HIM. The Scriptures are replete with commands that God demands we obey. And bythe-way, the Ten Commandments were written in stone by the same one who became Jesus Christ our Savior!! BELIEVE IT! OBEY HIM! Make the hard choices of walking in the way of righteousness! Yes that's right. The choice to walk God's way is the hard and narrow path. "Because small is the gate, and NARROW is the way, which leadeth to life, and FEW THERE ARE THAT FIND IT." (Mat. 7:14) And don't forget, Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour! This fight, these choices we make aren't against flesh and blood but against spirit beings who want us to fail. Will you let Satan separate you from the flock? Will you make the choice to let him devour you? I truly and sincerely hope not! /Ken Browder Seven
Times Newsletter

Material Needs
Sterling Hayden

What does a person need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all – in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?
Source: "Wanderer" by Sterling Hayden.

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Are you reaching your God-given potential?

Indeed. it does. Did you ever wonder why your partner feels pain or cold or heat more acutely (or less so) than you do? It's because of the striking variation in the sensitivity of our pain or other receptors. Some have little or no pain sensation - a fact which might influence your choice of occupation! Of ninety-seven fire fighters tested in New York, all but ten had a low pain sensitivity! And don't we wrapped-up office types marvel at those barechested hirsute working happily in sub-zero cold? Then there's color vision. "That curtain is green", you say. But your wife's perception is "blue". Who's right? Well - both. For we each see colors in a special way. Knowing about such differences might lead to more toleration within the family and on the job or golf course! You are. indeed, extraordinary.

Everybody knows about fingerprints. Of all earth's billions, no two people have the same pattern. Each of us is unique. But did you know that no two hearts are alike? Or stomachs, eyes, livers, nerves, blood vessels? Or brains? You are in fact? extraordinary! On physical examination it is quite apparent that each of us in a very special way is a unique person. Even the shape of the liver differs from one person to another. So, too, its color, and how it reacts inside its special environment. And its size. One mature liver, for example, can weigh four times as much as another. The same is true in principle for every organ. This in part explains why medicine or surgery is a hit or miss affair - an art form! Our brains too. differ. The functions of this crowning and vital organ can be mapped out in rough on the cortex. Yet no neurosurgeon can have an accurate knowledge of a particular brain without careful and detailed preinvestigation using all manner of scans and psychological tests. As one research neurologist, K.S. Lashley, points out: "...individuals start life with brains differing enormously in structure." And, "its diversities within the species are of the same general character as are the differences between related species." As that successful and very human psalmist, King David of ancient Israel, exclaimed. "You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous..." (Psalms 139:13-14). But does such significance? uniqueness have any practical

But - so what? Power-up Your Brain The bottom line is that each of us has a very distinctive mind. We are each a unique "bundle of nerves" - in the Bible it is described as the "spirit in man" - that's capable of immense development whatever our age. The brain consists of a billion inter-connecting neurons mostly present from birth - the "most complicated machine in the entire universe". But the numbers decrease with age, for millions of cells die daily. "No hope for me, then" you say? Not so, for your brain can grow whether you are seven or seventy. Whether we're young or old, neurologists now tell us that any learning activity actually increases the size and weight of the brain. And not from eating fish but from mental effort. Said wise King Solomon, "An intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them" (Proverbs 18:15). The successful human being is one who forever questions his views and looks constantly to improve himself or herself. Such are not stuck in a rut. Nor need you be! All of these factors imply that none of us need feel "a write-off". Simply because during our schooldays we were branded with a particular IQ we needn't feel inferior - not even to our boss. For you are talented in ways that are not inferior to his and are probably complementary. This applies, too, within family relationships! That old - but ever new - book, the Bible, is a rich vein of practical business wisdom. So grasp firmly what Paul said in his letter to the Roman Christians: "God has given us the ability to do certain things well" (Romans 12:6). Each of us - and that includes you has an incredible potential for personal development. The mathematical genius, Albert Einstein,

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once reckoned that we use only .02% of our capacity! We each have a storehouse of unused talent in a combination that is unique to us. We each have, in business terms, our "unique selling points". So, accept yourself for what you are - a special blend of strengths and weaknesses. Like the employee who hid his talent (Matthew 25:25), the only failures are those who die without taking advantage of their inborn capabilities. and those who don't recognize and offset their weaknesses. Said Helen Keller, "I thank God for my handicaps, for through them I have found myself, my work, and my God." On the other hand - don't accept yourself as you are! Our present attainments are but a step along the way. Much of what we have learned is transient. Science is temporary. with new discoveries forever overthrowing old concepts. What we "knew" as children is probably no longer true. And what we learned about God in Sunday School or at mother's knee is just as likely not to be true! Didn't Jesus warn us about "tradition" (Mark 7:6-9)? Mankind the Pinnacle When God created mankind - yes, He did! - He noted that everything He had created was "very good". Indeed, mankind was the very pinnacle of that creation. He said: "Let us make man in our image after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26). (The speaker. by the way, is the one who became Jesus Christ Colossians 1:15-17.) Even though we are "of dust from the ground" yet we have the potential through repentance and the subsequent indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God to become a part of the divine Family. We can become truly "children of God" (Romans 8:12-17).

God only has immortality - not man (I Timothy 6:16). We don't have dwelling within us some kind of immortal soul freshly dished out at our birth. We are not, as human beings, god-like. But we can become - through Jesus Christ in God's image just as He originally planned! You - who were made to become in the image of the divine - have an abundant array of undiscovered and unused talent. Use it in the service of God and humanity - and of yourself! /James McBride

Are we accidents with no enduring purpose?

...

Why Were You Born?
We are born. We live. We die. Is there a point to it all?
James McBride: n the grand scale, life is little more than a brief spark. It appears, glows to one degree or another, and disappears. In human terms it can last from a few minutes to little beyond a century. And the shorter it is the less likely our title question is asked. But in the excitement of youth or when you reach middle age or a comfortable `three score years and ten' then you might ask ‘Why on earth am I here’? Is there a point to it all? Is that all there is to these years of sorrow and happiness? Few philosophers can give a satisfying answer. After all, if you are simply the end result of an entirely physical process then you may as well, as King Solomon noted, enjoy - or endure - whatever health you have, whatever life throws at you. If we crawled from some primordial swamp on flippers, the result of some purely random process, then our seventy years are the sum of our existence. (This scenario, however, will before long be pictured only in the comics - as ridiculous and fictional as Superman or money for nothing or little green men and women from Venus.) Eat, drink and be merry - for tomorrow you die! And that's it. You live on only through your children. Always Tomorrow But most of us don't think that way, do we? There is, we feel in our bones, always tomorrow - even after death. From the recorded beginnings of human civilization man has prepared for the journey through the valley of death and into the unknown vistas of the next world. All religions - except perhaps the religion of professed humanism or atheism - are a process of explanation for that world beyond the grave. If there's a `religious gene' then we all have it, even though we may do our best to suppress it!

O

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Varieties of Belief The universality of religion is good evidence that we have an eternal destiny. And if so, why, on earth, were you born? So, whatever your faith, why do you think you were born? Most Christians would reply that they are to `follow Jesus' and when they die go to Heaven. After that it gets a bit fuzzy. You may enjoy painting or singing - but can you imagine doing that for a year, a million years, for ever? Certainly we can enjoy praising God for ever. But is that all your dreams? Young Muslim men strap explosives around their waists in the hope that the explosion will send them to `Paradise'. Wine, women and song - and water - for ever and ever. And atheists? Well, that's sad. Of all religions the `Holy Scriptures' - the Christian Bible explain the divine purpose as does no other religious writing or tradition. That purpose is mind-blowing! Yet most professing Christians are blind to the incredible destiny in store for the people of God. Human Destiny Mankind is a direct - and purposeful - act of the great ever-living Creator God. We are not just a divine whim but designed as the `clay model' that can be transformed as a vessel of worth and beauty. Given the opportunity of living forever, our first parents `blew it'. They chose the path of human reason to the exclusion of divine guidance. The result - the awesome mess that is today's world, marred by our wilful rejection of the fundamental rules of success - sin. We have collectively and individually - lost sight of the purpose of life. God respects our choice. He permits mankind to pursue his own path, intervening only to keep His global plan on track. But He also works with individuals. Any who respond to His open invitation are given every resource to fulfil the divine purpose. That purpose is that we become part of His divine Family - truly children of God. Throughout this life, God actively molds His children into His divine image through our unique ups and downs, all carefully monitored by Him. That image, that way of life, was exemplified for us in the life of God's only-begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus himself, through his life of perfect submission, qualified to become `the heir of the universe'. Raised from the dead he is lifted above the physical to a position of unbelievable authority. No longer subject to death, he wields all the power that sustains our universe. You Can Share It All who come to him, believe him, obey him - and who stay with him till life's end - are destined to share with him in his inheritance: to live forever as spirit-born sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. God's plan for His creation doesn't end with our physical existence. It extends into an eternity of, to us, inconceivable projects! No longer limited by our flesh, we will endlessly enjoy the work of our hands. Only those who will to step out on the narrow and difficult path beaten by our Saviour will fulfill the awesome purpose for which each of us was born.

"Life Goes On"
During these turbulent times we must remind ourselves repeatedly that life goes on. The wisdom of life transcends our wisdom: the purpose of life outlasts our purposes. It is as important as ever today, to attend to the little graces that by the dignity of our lives are maintained and sustained.

Birds still sing; the stars continue to cast their gentle gleam over the desolation of the battlefield, and the heart is still inspired by the kind word and gracious deed. There is no need to fear evil. There is every need to understand what it does, how it operates in the world, what it draws upon to sustain itself. Over and over we must know that the real target of evil is not the destruction of the body or the reduction to rubble of cities; the real target of evil is to

corrupt the spirit until the soul (mind) disintegrates. Therefore the evil in the world around us must not be allowed to move from without to within. Drink in the beauty that is within reach, clothe one's life with simple kindness, keep alive a sensitivity to the movement of the spirit of God in the quietness of the human heart and in the workings of the human mind. /Howard Thurman

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"What kind of FAITH is Required for

SALVATION?" N
O SUBJECT pertaining to Christian salvation is more generally misunderstood than that of saving FAITH! Just "BELIEVE in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;’ is the popular teaching today. And that statement is absolutely true—if you understand what kind of BELIEVING is required! Unfortunately millions are being deceived—led to trust in a faith that will never save one single soul by a very popular and very false teaching. It is customary to quote only a PART of the Scriptures on this subject—reading a false meaning into them—and thus by subtle half-truths popular teachings shackle most of Christendom to spiritual blindness and deceptions. Do These Scriptures Contradict? God does not usually reveal all the truth respecting a particular subject in any one passage alone. "Whom shall He teach knowledge? and whom shall He make to understand doctrine?. . . Precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little." (Isa. 28:9-10). To understand any general subject in the Bible, it is necessary to view all the scriptural evidence touching that particular subject. And we cannot read our inherited or desired meaning into any particular passage; for "no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation," (II Pet. 1:20), but each passage is interpreted by, and in the light of, other texts. For example. It is quite popular to quote Romans 3:20: "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight," and from this passage alone assume that salvation comes by faith in disobedience to God’s law! Those who thus interpret this passage never tell you that in Romans 2:13 the same Apostle Paul was inspired to write: "Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the DOERS of the law shall be justified." Is there contradiction here? If the one Scripture is intended to reveal that we do not have to make an effort to obey God’s Law to be justified and then saved—but that we are saved by faith without obedience to God’s Law, then, indeed, God contradicts Himself in His Word! And if you 8 wish to make Romans 3:20 say that, you must consistently acknowledge there is contradiction in the Scriptures; and if this be true, you have no basis for your faith! Again, Ephesians 2:8-9: "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." But those who quote this text so freely to teach the doctrine of "no works," never tell you that the same inspired Scriptures say also: "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? . . . Even so FAITH, if it hath not works, IS DEAD, being alone... I will show thee my faith BY my works. Thou BELIEVEST that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, AND tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works IS DEAD." (James 2:14-20) There is no contradiction here! Rather, by putting all the Scriptures on the subject of "Saving Faith" together, we learn that there are TWO KINDS of faith. And the kind so blindly trusted in by the majority of this day is nothing but a DEAD faith—and a DEAD faith never will save one soul! Notice! Jas. 2:20. "Faith without works is DEAD"—just a DEAD faith. James continues: "Was not Abraham our father JUSTIFIED by works, when he offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how FAITH wrought with his works, and BY WORKS was faith made perfect? . . . You see then how that BY WORKS A MAN IS JUSTIFIED, and not by faith only?" (James 2:21-24). Then are we saved by works instead of faith? No, NEVER! We are saved by FAITH! But faith wrought with our works and BY WORKS, our FAITH is MADE PERFECT! That is LIVING FAITH! Why do we even need salvation? Because we have SINNED, and the penalty of sin is DEATH! But how have we sinned? What IS sin, any how? "Sin is the transgression of THE LAW," is God’s answer (I John 3:4). "Yes," answers the victim of modern fables, "But we are not under the law today, but UNDER GRACE!" Why certainly! "What then?" asks the inspired Paul, "shall we SIN"—(transgress the LAW) — ‘because we are not under the law but under grace?" And Paul’s answer is,

"GOD FORBID!" (Rom. 6:15). And again, "Shall we continue in SIN" —(transgressing the law) — "That grace may abound? GOD FORBID! How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Romans 6:1-2) The law has a penalty—DEATH. It claims the life of the one who transgresses it. The law has power to take the life of the transgressor. It therefore is more powerful than the sinner—and is OVER the sinner, holding a claim on his life. It is the SINNER who is UNDER the law. But when the sinner REPENTS of his transgression, and accepts the sacrifice of Christ as payment of the penalty of the law, then he is PARDONED—UNDER GRACE—the law no longer stands OVER him claiming his life. It is those who are sinning that are UNDER the law! And those who, thru repentance, obedience and FAITH have turned from disobedience and are, thru faith, KEEPING the law, are the only ones who are UNDER GRACE! God’s Spiritual Mirror Let us understand it! "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight." No, certainly not! That Scripture is 100% true, and there is no contradiction! You cannot be justified BY the deeds of the law—not at all! WHY? The last half of this same verse gives the answer— why do most preachers never quote it? "For by the law is the KNOWLEDGE of sin" (Rom 3:20). THAT’S WHY! The purpose of the law is not to forgive, to justify, to wash away, to cleanse. Only THE BLOOD OF CHRIST can do that! Sin is the transgression of the law— that’s what sin IS. The purpose of the law is to tell us what sin is—to define it—to REVEAL it, so we can quit it. All women ought to understand this. In every woman’s handbag is a little mirror. She knows what it is for. Every little while she takes out this mirror and steals a glance at her face. Sometimes it reveals a speck of dirt. And we might truthfully say, "by the use of these minors are no dirty faces washed clean." You women understand what we mean! But do you throw your minors away because by them your faces are not washed? Of course not—what a silly question it seems, when applied to a MATERIAL case! And if we ask you WHY your faces are not washed clean by your minors, you answer: "Because by the minor comes the KNOWLEDGE OF THE DIRT." God’s LAW is His spiritual minor. We look into it, and see the dirt on our hearts! But by looking at the law, or keeping it, no dirt is WASHED from our hearts — only Christ’s BLOOD can do that. By the law comes the KNOWLEDGE OF SIN! Listen to James explain it! "But be ye DOERS OF the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into perfect LAW of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a DOER of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed" (James 1:22-25). 9

Is It Possible to Keep the Law? But argues the "no law" deceiver, "no man can keep the Commandments, it is not humanly possible. Since FAITH has come, we keep no law—faith has made it VOID." Thus even "Satan himself is transferred into an angel of LIGHT. Therefore it is no great thing if HIS MINISTERS also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness—For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of CHRIST" (Ii Cor. 11:1315). "Do we then make void the law through faith’?" comes the question, in inspired Scripture—and the answer: "GOD FORBID: yea, we ESTABLISH THE LAW!" (Rom. 3:3 1). Yes, faith establishes the Law! By keeping it is faith made PERFECT! Yet, can we keep the Commandments? Is it possible? Satan’s "No Law" deceivers say NO! What is the PLAIN TRUTH? A man came to Jesus and asked how to be saved. The Saviour Himself replied, "If thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS" (Mat. 19:17). "When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus beheld them and said unto them, ‘With men this is impossible; but with God, all things are possible’ (Verses 25-26) There is Christ’s own answer! With men it IS impossible,—utterly impossible to really KEEP His Commandments. But—here’s the blessed truth— WITH GOD, it is possible, even to keep His Commandments. Do you begin to see it? IT TAKES FAITH! Faith in the power of GOD! And, just as your own diligent effort coupled with faith makes faith perfect, so faith coupled with your effort makes PERFECT OBEDIENCE! The two go hand in hand. And you cannot have the one, without the other! A LIVING FAITH—the only kind that will SAVE—is an active faith—one that TRUSTS GOD to make it possible to OBEY HIM—to live the true Christian life—to KEEP His blessed Commandments! Think! Could a just God command men to do what it is IMPOSSIBLE to do? Or can we conceive of Jesus as a smart-aleck young man who knew more than His FATHER, and who did away with His Father’s COMMANDMENTS? How absurd! Yet this is the popular conception today! The Law is Eternal God’s Law is not a horrible monster! Just and right laws are a tenor only to the criminal—they are made to PROTECT the good! God’s law is PERFECT (Psalm 19:7), it is a SPIRITUAL law, (Rom. 7:14), HOLY, and just, and good (Rom. 7:12). ALL His commandments are SURE, and stand fast FOREVER AND EVER (Psalm 111:7-8). Don’t you believe it, when men tell you differently! God’s Law is, simply, LOVE! It is the perfect way of life. Every particle of human suffering, unhappiness, misery

and death has come solely from its transgression! It was given to make man HAPPY, and is the only philosophy of life that can do so! It came from a God of LOVE, and LOVE is the fulfilling of the law! But not YOUR own natural love! It requires "the love of GOD, shed abroad in our hearts BY THE HOLY GHOST" (Rom. 5:5). God has, and will give you the love that will fulfill His law. And so, praise His blessed Name!—it is possible, through FAITH, and the GIFT of God’s Holy Spirit, for man to keep His Commandments! And whoever claims differently, God calls a plain LIAR (I John 2:4). The true Commandment-keeper is forced to trust God to make obedience possible. And thus faith does not void, but establishes the Law! And to keep the law requires FAITH! A thrilling example of this eternal truth is recorded in the Book of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, erected a great golden image. "Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, 0 people, nations, and languages," that at the time ye hear the sound of the band, "ye fall down and worship the golden image" (Dan. 3:4-5). "And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace." (Verse 6). Set over the affairs of the province of Babylon were Daniel’s three young Jewish friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. One of the Commandments of God’s eternal spiritual law forbids such worship of images. Had you been in their place, what would YOU have done? Would you not have said, "Well, I have to bow down to this image—I have to do it or be killed!" And perhaps you would have excused yourself by reasoning thus: "I don’t think God would be fair if He punished me for this, when He knows I am FORCED to do it. Anyway, He tells us to be subject to the power of the state!" Yes, it is easy to use reason to excuse disobedience to God. But God is not looking for chances to punish us—but rather for opportunities to SAVE us thru faith! To save us from the folly of SIN and the sad consequence our own acts impose! Whatever we sow we shall reap. God’s Law is intended to protect us from suffering. It is not GOD who punishes us when we do wrong, it is merely our own acts rebounding like a boomerang! But these three young Jews knew the truth—that we should OBEY GOD. rather than men—that thru FAITH God makes it possible. When they firmly REFUSED to bow down to worship the king’s image, Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded them brought before him (Verse 13). Listen to the quiet, trusting, unafraid answer of these lads. "0 Nebuchadnezzar,—our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace!" (Verses 16-18) Sometimes God tries our faith. He tried theirs. You might think He failed them, but He only permitted their faith to be tested. 10

"Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed; . . . therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated—Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments,"— surely the God whom they trusted would have them released now? But no—there was no physical evidence whatever that God so much as heard!— "and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace!" (Verse 19-21) The furnace was so hot the flames leaped out and "slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego." And they fell down "bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace!" God permitted them actually to be thrown in! Was He unmindful of those who trusted in Him to make possible the keeping of His Commandments? Not God! The king looked into the furnace, and said "lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt: and the form of the fourth is like the Son of GOD! (Verse 25). So Nebuchadnezzar came near the mouth of the furnace and called to them. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego! ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither! Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came forth of the midst of the fire. . . . these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent His angel, and DELIVERED his servants that TRUSTED IN HIM!" (Verses 26-18) THERE was an example of living FAITH! A faith that TRUSTED God to make it possible to live the way of His law! Yes, WITH GOD, it is possible to keep all His Commandments—and don’t let any man deceive you to the contrary! Can You Believe and Worship Christ in Vain? When God’s Word says, "BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," it does not mean the DEAD faith now popularly taught! Tho common teachings of this day distort this to mean a mere belief in the FACTS of Christ’s existence, His sacrifice, and His saving work. Just accept these FACTS, and accept HIM— without any obedience to God’s Laws! But the devils believe these things—and they TREMBLE! Christ was the Messenger of the New Covenant— Messenger sent from God. You cannot BELIEVE on such a divine Messenger, unless you believe, and obey the MESSAGE that He brought! "If thou wilt enter into LIFE," was His teaching, "KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS!" "REPENT," said the inspired Peter, and then believe and be baptised for the remission of sins, and "ye SHALL receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38). God gives His Holy Spirit only to them that OBEY HIM (Acts 5:32).

and His Holy Spirit is the LOVE which God gives us to fulfill and to keep His Commandments! And it all comes BY FAITH! Christ came to save us FROM, not in, our sins! To FREE us from the enslavement of sin and the unhappiness and wretchedness it brings—not to make us free to commit sin! Is it possible to BELIEVE in Christ—to worship Him—in the customary manner of the day, and yet be lost? Christ Himself says, "YES!" "Not every one that saith unto me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that DOETH the will of my Father which is in heaven," He said (Matt. 7:21). Hear Him again! "Howbeit IN VAIN do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandments of God, ye hold the tradition of men!" (Mark 7:7-8). There it is! From Jesus’ own lips! Such a dead faith—such

worship—is IN VAIN! Those who trust in it, and in the men and denominations which teach it, ARE LOST! And the quicker we come to realize it, the better! God’s PURPOSE in salvation is to rescue men from SIN, and its resulting unhappiness, misery, and death! To REPENT of sin is the first step! Then the BLOOD OF CHRIST, upon acceptance and faith, cleanses of all past sins. And by FAITH we are kept from sin in the future. Thus the resulting righteousness is of FAITH—the righteousness imparted from God. We are not justified BY THE LAW—we are justified by the blood of Jesus Christ! But this justification will be given only on Condition that we REPENT of our transgressions of God’s Law—and so it is, after all, only the DOERS of the law that shall be JUSTIFIED (Rom. 2:13). How Plain, and how beautiful is God’s TRUTH! []

IF YOU OBEY THE LAW........... ARE YOU ‘UNDER THE LAW’?
The majority of this Christian professing world believes, teaches and preaches that "the law" is "done away with in Christ."
They quote the scripture that says: "For SIN shall not have DOMINION over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace." (Rom. 6:14) First let us ask, What IS sin? And the answer is:

"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: FOR SIN IS THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW." (1 John 3:4) This causes one to ask, "Which law?" "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid! Nay, I had not known sin but by the law; for I had not known lust except the law had said, "Thou shalt not covet." (Rom. 7:7) It is pretty plain here that the law being talked about is the Ten Commandments, one of which says Thou shalt not covet. One can only know what sin really is by using God's commandments which defines and describes what sin is. The law itself isn't sin but it tells us what sin is. Disobeying the Ten Commandments IS sin! How then can we keep sin from "having dominion over us?" "That as sin hath reigned unto death, (sin causes death) even so might GRACE reign THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 5:21)

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" "God forbid! How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Rom. 6:1-2) We became dead to sin when we repented, were submerged in that watery grave of baptism, and received God's Holy Spirit. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ, were baptised into HIS DEATH?" "Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory (power) of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Rom 6:3-4) "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." "For he that is dead is freed from sin." (Rom. 6:6-7) "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should OBEY IT in the lusts thereof." (Rom. 6:12) How can this be simply put? When a person is disobeying God's commandments, that person is allowing sin to have dominion over

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them. When that person realizes they are sinning by breaking God's law, and repent of that, they begin to OBEY the commandments. At this point, through His Grace and Mercy,God forgives that person of their PAST TRANSGRESSIONS. They are then baptised into Christ's death and when they come up out of that watery "grave", God FORGETS their past sins. They are then spiritually clean and God can bestow His Holy Spirit into their MINDS to help them continue to obey His commandments, and to help them resist the PULLS of the flesh (our humanity) and to help against the "fiery darts of Satan." However, even though we have been forgiven of our past sins, we are NOT free to continue to commit sin (break God's law) because of God's grace and forgiveness, are we? Paul said, "God forbid." Ok, then. We see that we are supposed to keep the law, but we continue to sin because we are in these fleshly bodies that crave and desire wrong things most of the time. There are emotions and desires that pull and tug at us all the time and when we give in to those we break

God's Ten Commandments and sin. We then have placed ourselves back under the penalty of the law. What can we do then? This is the core of the matter! Once God has forgiven us of our sins through His grace and mercy we come under an umbrella that allows us to come directly to the throne room of God the Father and repent of those sins as we recognize them. God won't turn away His Face from us because we are under a special umbrella or covenant. That COVENANT is the COVERING BLOOD of Jesus Christ who shed it for us! We are then allowed to go to God the Father directly and ask Him for forgiveness of each sin we commit (each commandment we break). We can do this because God is only seeing that righteous covering of Christ's Blood upon us(Psalms 119:172 -Jesus obeyed ALL of God's commandments perfectly), and Jesus is there at the right hand of God as our High Priest and Advocate with the Father. He is our help, our lawyer, asking God to grant our wish for forgiveness of sins.

Because we have ACCEPTED the shed blood of Christ, repented of our law-breaking, been buried with Christ in baptism, and raised from that watery grave to be led by God's Holy Spirit, we are in a DIFFERENT category than others who have not done so. Yes, we are under grace. However, we are still able to, and DO sin from time to time because of our fleshly weaknesses, but we have been given the right, the special privilege, to come to the Father in a repentant attitude and ask for forgiveness because Christ shed His blood for us. Those who haven't gone through this process are still "under the law" (the penalty of the law). Sin still has dominion over them because they haven't rejected it. They have "come short of the glory of God." In trying to keep this simple and to the point we haven't talked about "the law of Moses" and "the law of sacrifice." Yes there ARE separate laws. Many people are confused and try to lump all three of these laws together when they are NOT the same! /Ken Browder

Live a Life That Matters
Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days. All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else. Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear. So too your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire. The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away. It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end. It won’t matter whether you where beautiful or brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant. So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured? What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; Not what you got, but how you gave. What will matter is not your success, but your significance. What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught. What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example. What will matter is not your competence, but your character. What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone. What will matter are not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you. What will matter is how long you will be remembered, but by whom and for what. Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice. Choose to live a life that matters. Author Unknown 12

Vision
“Where [there is] no vision, the people perish...” (Proverbs 29:18).

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“perish” is from the Hebrew word para, which means “let loose” or “go wild” or “go naked.” Where there is no vision the people cast off restraint. Where there is no vision, there is no standard for conduct. When there is no standard for conduct, the natural propensity is to “go wild,” or put off restraints. There was a blind man who became, in a sense, a metaphor for vision. There was an incident in which Christ encountered a man who had been blind from birth (John 9). Christ said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (verse 5). Christ drew an analogy between the spiritual vision available through him and the physical vision also available through him by healing the man (verses 6-7). What happened to the man afterward is a comedy to say the least. The neighbors found it hard to believe that the man blind from birth was now seeing (verse 8). Some doubted, thinking he might be a different man who looks like him; he had to announce to them: “I am [he]” (verse 9). Then he came in contact with the religious leaders (the Pharisees). He told them what happened. They too thought he could not have been healed. After all, they reasoned, Jesus

could not have healed him because Jesus is a sinner who broke the Sabbath by healing the man on the Sabbath (verse 16). In their book of rules it was a sin to heal someone on the Sabbath. However there is no such rule in the entirety of the Bible. Healing can take place any day of the week. The Sabbath is not profaned by healing a man. These religious leaders had an anti-supernaturalistic bias, as do many today. They didn’t believe miracles really happened. They called the parents to confirm the story (verses 18-20). The parents, knowing the religious leaders were spoiling for a fight, say of their son, “...He is of age; ask him” (verse 23). So the religious leaders, not wanting to believe him, began arguing with the man. How were your eyes opened, hey asked? (verse 26). His reply is interesting: “...I have told you already and you did not hear. Wherefore would you hear it again? Will you also be his disciples?” (verse 27). At the end of the argument, the religious leaders throw the man out (Verse 34). Jesus finds the man and gives him some spiritual sight and insight as well (Verses 35-39). “...For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind” (Verse 39). The religious leaders heard him and asked, “...Are we blind also?” (Verse 40). Christ replied: “...If you were blind, you should have no sin: but now you say, We see; therefore your sin remains” (Verse 41). The reason the man was blind was that the works of God should be made manifest in him (John 9:3). Notice the sequence of events. The man is healed. He is able to see for the first time in his life. Isn’t the same true of a person who truly accepts Christ and begins to see (spiritually) for the first time? By the same token, some will not even recognize the new person. They think it must be someone else. New Christians are excited by the new vision they have received. Ironically, it is the religious leaders who will try to throw a wet blanket on the idea that the person has received sight, insight, or healing. Their attitude is: “You didn’t get it from us. So it must be of no value.” This is exactly what the Pharisees projected, although many of them knew better. And like the religious leaders of that day, many of the religious leaders of this day will gladly throw you out of their assembly if you appear to have obtained vision. “Where [there is] no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy [is] he” (Proverbs 29:18). “The people, which sat in darkness saw great light...” (Matthew 4:16). By Wily Elder

Don’t Look Back
Satchel Paige was a well-known pitcher in the Negro Baseball League for many years. He later finished his career in the integrated American League at an advanced age for baseball players. No one really knew how old he was, but the guess was that he was in his mid-to-upper-fifties. He was noted for saying, "Don’t look back, something may be gaining on you." The Bible also speaks about not looking back. Luke 9:62 states: " . . . No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Of course, this has a spiritual application in our lives. If we look back longingly to our former lifestyle, and desire things that the old sinful man enjoyed, it has caused us to sin. If this desire continues, we are in danger of being taken back to the old life and its ways.

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A farmer also knows that you can’t plow a straight row if you are looking backwards. Instead, he must look forward and keep his eyes focused on the end of the row. Looking back can hinder your forward progress. Looking back can be very depressing. Looking back can cause us to "trip and fall on our face." This can have a literal, as well as spiritual, application. We can also look back into our past and pick up forgiven sins. I John 1:79 lends some "light" on this subject. God really does take our sins away. Upon confession of our sins, He promises forgiveness and cleansing for all sins. We find assurance that "as far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us," (Psalm 103:8-12). Perhaps you may have accepted that this was true for others, but wondered or had difficulty accepting this for yourself. God has put away our sins, even our most serious ones. We need not look back at failures of the past. This has a tendency to bring depression into your life. Everyone has experienced some failure(s) in their past. Only those who never attempt anything are free from failure. However, in reality, this is not the truth of the matter, either, because they have failed to try. If we fall, God will lift us up again. We are told in Psalm 37:23 that "the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in His way." The next verse adds, "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand." Don’t believe Satan's lie that failing makes you a failure. This is only true if you quit trying.

Perhaps you have heard people conversing about "the good old days." Somehow, reminiscing about the past causes us to see things from the past in a better light than they really were. Ecclesiastes 7:10 warns us to, "Say not thou, what is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this." We can find examples of this in the Scriptures, and perhaps we also have experienced similar circumstances in our own lives. When the going got tough, Israel looked back longingly to Egypt (Numbers 11:18-20). Perhaps when the going gets tough, the tough should get going. Perhaps you have heard the old adages: "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." "Distance causes enchantment." The truth is that reminiscing produces incomplete memories. Nostalgia is never quite honest. Someone once said, "The present is never as good as it used to be." It is wise to refrain from thinking back about old conflicts. This can make us bitter or angry all over again. Rehashing old conflicts returns the old hurts and opens old wounds. Hopefully, forgiveness surrounding these old matters has already taken place, but they can become dangerous territory if you keep going over them. Forget the past and get on with your Christian life. There is one more area that could be a pitfall for some, if they are not aware of the danger. We should be careful about looking back with pride at the times which we consider to be our

spiritual mountain tops. These may be times when we were "flying high." This attitude may cause us to feel that at that time we "had arrived." However, none of us has been as high spiritually or as close to God as we need to be. True, it is a growth process. As we develop our spiritual wings, the closeness will also develop. Your present state should be better than the former. Our eyes must be focused on Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-2 encourages us to, "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." We are again reminded in Luke 21:28 to, " . . . look up, and lift up your heads; for (Jesus) your redemption draweth nigh." Once again the admonition is to lift up our eyes; however, this time there is a job given for us to do. John 4:35 states, "Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." If you must look back, think about all those people out in the world who are in the same state you were, just a few years ago. Remember, "Except by God's grace, there go I." Develop Godly compassion and concern for those outside the "ark of safety." Think about their fate. Remember their condition in your prayers. Pray that God will give you wisdom and an opportunity to change the effects of their past. Without realizing it, you will have changed your focus from yourself to others and, in the process, forgotten the past. There is work for you to do now. LOOK AHEAD! THE BEST IS YET TO COME! By Earl Lewis Ω

Food For Thought…
Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Frank Outlaw

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Pursue LOVE M
y oldest sister was planning for her wedding. She asked me if during the ceremony I would read some passages from the "Love Chapter" of the Bible. I would be honored! The language of my King James Bible was so dated that I didn’t feel I had fully grasped what Paul was trying to say. It sounded fine, majestic, romantic, noble, dignified, stately, and regal. But I just didn’t know exactly what it meant. And, maybe no one at the ceremony would understand what these verses meant, either. That bothered me. I decided I was going to find out what these well-worn passages really did mean, so that everyone at the wedding, including myself, could understand what the characteristics of love really are. I looked up the meanings of the Greek words that Paul used when he wrote the letter. I also looked at more modern translations of the Bible. Finally I realized that Paul had given us a glimpse of love personified. He’d depicted love as a person, a living entity. And I saw that Paul had presented love in a series of little scenes. So if you want to know what love is really like — what it does, what it doesn’t do, how it thinks — here it is, all wrapped up in a nice little package, I Corinthians 13:4-8, a series of love scenes. Action, camera! Scene 1: Love "suffers long and is kind," verse 4. First, "suffers long" was translated from the Greek word makrothumeo: to be long-spirited, patient, forbearing (by the way, forbear means refrain from; avoid or cease doing or saying). Then "kind" was translated from chresteuomai: to show oneself useful; act benevolently. J.B. Phillips puts the pieces together: "slow to lose patience — it looks for a way of being constructive." Love helps out. Scene 2: Love "does not envy," verse 4. In this scene, "envy" was translated from zeloo "to have warmth of feeling — for or against." Interestingly, zeloo comes from zelos, which means "heat, zeal; (and, in an unfavorable sense) jealously, malice." Of course envy is a feeling of discontent or ill will because of another’s advantages or possessions; resentful dislike of another who has something that one desires. The verdict: love never stews and burns with envy. Scene 3: Love "does not vaunt (parade) itself, is not puffed up," verse 4. First "parade itself" was translated from perperenomai "to boast." Thus, "love does not brag," (New American Standard). "Puffed up" was translated from phusioo, "to inflate, make proud." Thus, love "is not conceited — arrogant and inflated with pride," (Amplified Bible). Now, for a real show-stopper: love "is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance," (Phillips). Ouch! Obviously love is more the strong, silent type. Scene 4: Love "does not behave rudely," verse 5. In this scene, "rudely" was translated from aschemosune, "an indecency." Consequently, love "doth not behave itself unseemly" (KJV). Nor does it "act unbecomingly," (New American Standard). Phillips shows the positive side: "Love has good manners . . . ." Love is a lady, and a gentleman. Scene 5: Love "does not seek its own," verse 5. Love "does not pursue selfish advantage," (Phillips). And here’s a classic: "Love [God’s love in us] does not 15 insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking," (Amplified). Love doesn’t grab the Director’s chair. It lets God run the show. Scene 6: Love "is not provoked," verse 5. This isn’t really a fight scene, because "provoked" was translated from paroxuno, "to exasperate." So love isn’t "easily angered," (NIV); "fretful or resentful," (Amplified); "irritable or touchy," (Living Bible). Instead, love is self-possessed — in full possession of its feelings and actions. Scene 7: Love "thinks no evil," verse 5. How do we interpret this scene? Well, "thinks" was translated from logizomai, "to take an inventory; to estimate." Thus, love "keeps no record of wrongs," (NIV). Love "takes no account of the evil done to it — pays no attention to a suffered wrong," (Amplified). Love is bulletproof! Scene 8: Love "does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth," verse 6. Love roots for the good guy! Love doesn’t "gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it shares the joy of those who live by the truth," (Phillips). Brethren, what would the future hold for us if we spoke of the whole ekklesia — all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of which church organization they might belong to — with this scene in mind? Scene 9: Love "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things," verse 7. See these heroic scenes: Love "always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres," (NIV). "Love knows no limits to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything," (Phillips). "Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it

endures everything [without weakening]," (Amplified). Scene 10: Love "never fails," verse 8. Finally, "fails" was translated from ekpipto, "to drop away; be driven out of one’s course; lose; become inefficient." Thus, love "never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end," (Amplified). Love "goes on forever," (Living Bible). Love wins out in the end!

Epilogue: "Pursue love," I Corinthians 14:1. Pursue means to try to find, strive for, seek after. "Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire [this] love — make it your aim, your great quest," (Amplified)./Written by Lee H. Clark
(Giving & Sharing)

Something to Ponder:

Buzzards, Bats, Bumblebees and People

Buzzard If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top. Bat The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkably nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like flash. Bumblebee A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself. People In many ways, there are many people like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. They struggle with all their problems and frustrations, not ever realizing that the answer is right “above” them.

Who Are We?
The Mustard Seed Newsletter is distributed free of charge by The Mustard Seed Evangelistic Association –an affiliated association committed to the publishing of the Gospel that Jesus Christ preached as recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures. This goal is within the framework of the Commission mandated to His apostles and followers to "go and make disciples of all nations ... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20. It is our thrust and hope that the Mustard Seed and other future publications will become the shared-resource and vehicle for our readers to come to know and understand the true meaning of life as proclaimed through the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. You are invited to join us in this exciting and marvelous work!

"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."
Matthew 13:31-32

For your question and/or comment, email us at mseedwork@yahoo.com/ Raul de Asis Hipe/Editor

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