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The Battle for Jesus

The battle started after Adam and Eve were ushered out of the Garden of Eden. Their two sons, Cain and Abel, were the first to experience it. Abel certainly was righteous as he brought the right sacrifice for worship but Cain was proud and arrogant bringing for worship the fruit of his labor. When God rejected Cain's sacrifice, rather than repent, Cain murdered his brother. A righteous line was cut off and if Seth hadn't been born to Adam and Eve there would have been no righteous line for Jesus to be born out of. Down Seth's line came Noah and his family. If not for Noah's righteousness the earth would have had no other to build the boat and save the human race. After the ark rested and the land dried out, all came out and the brother's lineage grew and separated. We learn from Genesis 10 that Japheth, the second son, went west and north, Ham, the youngest went south into today's Africa, and the first son, Shem, went east with his family into Babylonia and toda…

Standing Firm

Today it is difficult to find a person that does not waiver. It seems that if you took a position two or three years ago on an important matter, you don't have to believe that same thing today. Life has become filled with "mushy" people. They feel the winds change and so they change, too. They cannot be relied upon for consistency, truthfulness or standing firm in their beliefs. However, contrary to their situational ethics lives, there are fundamental virtues that support a life that is standing firm. These are given to us by no other than King David in a psalm he wrote. He began by asking "Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill (Psalm 15:1)?" His desire was to be with God daily and He knew that that required integrity of life. He goes on to identify the character of a person that can stand before God without fear. Here are those virtues: (Psalm 15:2-5) Leads a blameless life.  Is not able to be blamed by anyone ab…

Three Questions

Jacob traveled to Paddan-aram to the house of Rachel's father, Laban. He spent twenty years there and became a wealthy man with four wives and twelve children. There came a time for him to return to the land of his father Isaac, so he gathered all he had accumulated and set out on the journey back to Canaan. On the way he realized that he would at some point meet up with his brother Esau from whom he had obtained the birthright and who had determined to kill him earlier in his life. So Jacob prepared many herds of animals and the herdsmen to guide them on before him. He sent them knowing that Esau would learn of their coming and would go out to meet them. Jacob's instructions to the first group were, "When my brother, Esau, meets you, he will ask, 'Whose servants are you? Where are you going? Who owns these animals?' You must reply, 'They belong to your servant Jacob, but they are a gift for his master Esau (Genesis 32:17-18).'" The answer to these thre…

Reputation

Every one of us has a reputation. That is an estimation in which a person is commonly held. It can be limited, if we are quiet and reserved and keep ourselves from the front of the pack, but that's still a reputation. Hardened criminals desire a bad reputation because they think it will bring them power and it will draw more "business" to them to do bad things. It seems crazy to think that is even possible but it is. It also causes others to fear them and that gives them leverage in those situations. But what most people want is a good reputation. They want to have honor, a good name and respect. They want people to look on them and express about them their good heart and actions. Here is the secret to a good reputation, as well as bad or limited one, it is earned. No one can get a reputation without putting in the work that is necessary. A good reputation starts in your own heart and works its way out to your actions. Solomon spoke of this when he said, "Never let l…

The Gold Standard

This phrase means the best, most reliable, or most prestigious thing of its type. It is special, top of the line and bows to no other. Wherever you see it activated, you are impressed and wowed. It doesn't seem like anything else could be better. If you were to boil down the Old Testament Law to a simple statement and then see this confirmed by the prophetic books of the Bible, what would it say? It is sometimes called the Golden Rule and is defined as the suggested basic principle to be followed to ensure success in general or particular activities. Matthew captured it in Jesus'  Sermon on the Mount when he said, "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you (Matthew 7:12a)." This seems simple enough, doesn't it? Well, as you can see I have only quoted the first part of the verse. When we add the rest of the verse it makes it clear what Jesus was saying. "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taugh…

In Private

There are some things that should be kept private. Jesus spoke of three toward the end of his teaching to a large group of his disciples on a mountainside. He spoke about good deeds, prayer and fasting. He said, "Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you (Matthew 6:4)." Do it with the right motive, not to be admired by others. Don’t draw attention to this act but keep it private. He said, "When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private (6:6)." Those who love to pray publicly on street corners and at church do it so that everyone can see them and that has nothing to do with its purpose. Again, they are drawing attention to themselves and that brings only a temporal reward. Further He said, "When you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting…(6:17)." Don't make it obvious that you are fasting or go to even greater lengths to…

Original Prodigal Son

Most of us have heard or read the story of the prodigal son who was the younger of the two sons of a wealthy man. At a young age he requested his share of the inheritance he was due if his father died. He hadn't died yet when this request was made. He went off, spent it all in wild living and ended up in a pig sty feeding the animals. But he came to himself and in that moment of clarity realized he would be better off living as a servant in his father's house than staying where he was. So, he humbled himself and went back to his father. It was a great reunion and he was restored to sonship rather than servanthood. But he wasn't the first prodigal son. There were several before him but taking it all the way back to the first two sons of Adam and Eve we see Cain as the original prodigal son. Genesis 4 reviews his story. "Cain cultivated the ground"(Gen. 4:2) Abel was a herdsman. They both brought for sacrifice that which was theirs, Cain brought crops, Abel brought …