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    Side by Side

    In ancient times, a city with broken walls revealed a defeated people, exposed to danger and shame. That is why the Jews rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. How? By working side by side, an expression that can well describe Nehemiah 3.

    At first glance, chapter 3 might appear to be a boring account of who did what in the reconstruction. However, a closer look highlights how people worked together. Priests were working alongside rulers. Perfume-makers were helping as well as goldsmiths. There were some who lived in nearby towns and came to give a hand. Others made repairs opposite their houses.…

    The Babushka Lady

    The “Babushka Lady” is one of the mysteries surrounding the 1963 assassination of US President John F. Kennedy. Captured on film recording the events with a movie camera, she has proven to be elusive. This mystery woman, wearing an overcoat and scarf (resembling a Russian babushka), has never been identified and her film has never been seen. For decades, historians and scholars have speculated that fear has prevented the “Babushka Lady” from telling her story of that dark November day.  

    No speculation is needed to understand why Jesus’s disciples hid. They cowered in fear because of the authorities (John 20:19)…

    Salt for the Soil

    Salt. It’s one of the world’s most valuable minerals and has helped advance modern civilization. Its preservative capabilities helped the ancient world prevent starvation by safely increasing the shelf life of meats and vegetables. Not surprisingly, the mining and trading of salt, along with transporting cured foods over long distances, became big business.

    The Spirit’s Work Within

    One day, I noticed my bird feeder hanging in the distance and remembered it had been some time since I’d refilled it. Walking over and reaching for the refill cap, I stopped as I noticed the interior of the feeder had been taken over by a wasp’s nest. The transformation reminded me that, similar to the way a wasp nest and birdseed couldn’t occupy the same space, our choice to be filled with the Holy Spirit must be full and complete.

    Silence Isn’t Always Golden

    Samaria, the capital of Israel, was being besieged by the Aramean army. Food was soon depleted, and many died of hunger while some resorted to cannibalism (2 Kings 6:24-31). The prophet Elisha told the unbelieving king that God would rescue them and provide food for them (2 Kings 7:1). Soon, the divine army that Elisha’s servant had seen earlier scattered the enemy (2 Kings 6:14-17, 2 Kings 7:6-7).

    Passing on the Legacy

    My phone beeped, indicating an incoming text. My daughter wanted my grandmother’s recipe for Peppermint Ice Cream Pie. As I thumbed through the yellowed cards in my aged recipe box, my eyes spotted the unique handwriting of my grandmother—and several jotted notes in the small cursive of my mother. It occurred to me that with my daughter’s request, Peppermint Ice Cream Pie would make its entrance into a fourth generation within my family.

    I wondered, what other family heirlooms might be handed down generation to generation? What about choices regarding faith? Besides the pie, would the faith of my grandmother—and my…

    Obedience to the “Heavenly Vision”

    I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. —Acts 26:19

    If we lose “the heavenly vision” God has given us, we alone are responsible— not God. We lose the vision because of our own lack of spiritual growth. If we do not apply our beliefs about God to the issues of everyday life, the vision God has given us will…

    Being an Example of His Message

    Preach the word! —2 Timothy 4:2

    We are not saved only to be instruments for God, but to be His sons and daughters. He does not turn us into spiritual agents but into spiritual messengers, and the message must be a part of us. The Son of God was His own message— “The words that I…

    His Commission to Us

    Feed My sheep. —John 21:17

    This is love in the making. The love of God is not created— it is His nature. When we receive the life of Christ through the Holy Spirit, He unites us with God so that His love is demonstrated in us. The goal of the indwelling Holy Spirit is not…

    The Compelling Majesty of His Power

    The love of Christ compels us… —2 Corinthians 5:14

    Paul said that he was overpowered, subdued, and held as in a vise by “the love of Christ.” Very few of us really know what it means to be held in the grip of the love of God. We tend so often to be controlled simply by our own experience.…

    Becoming the “Filth of the World”

    We have been made as the filth of the world… —1 Corinthians 4:13

    These words are not an exaggeration. The only reason they may not be true of us who call ourselves ministers of the gospel is not that Paul forgot or misunderstood the exact truth of them, but that we are too cautious and concerned about our own desires to allow ourselves…

    The Compelling Force of the Call

    Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! —1 Corinthians 9:16

    Beware of refusing to hear the call of God. Everyone who is saved is called to testify to the fact of his salvation. That, however, is not the same as the call to preach, but is merely an illustration which can be used in preaching. In this verse, Paul was…

    The Call of God

    Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel… —1 Corinthians 1:17

    Paul states here that the call of God is to preach the gospel. But remember what Paul means by “the gospel,” namely, the reality of redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are inclined to make sanctification the goal of our preaching. Paul refers to personal experiences only by way…

    Do You See Your Calling?

    …separated to the gospel of God… —Romans 1:1

    Our calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be proclaimers of the gospel of God. The one all-important thing is that the gospel of God should be recognized as the abiding reality. Reality is not human goodness, or holiness, or heaven, or hell— it is…

    Called By God

    God did not direct His call to Isaiah— Isaiah overheard God saying, “. . . who will go for Us?” The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude. “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). That is, few prove that they are the chosen ones. The chosen ones are those who have come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and have had their spiritual condition changed and their ears opened.

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