No

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives in this present age. Titus 2:11-12

First of all, memorize this passage.

Dwell on it, drink it in, get into your very soul. Play with it in your mind. Keep it churning and churning and spinning around in your head. Close your eyes and meditate on it. It will be time well spent.

A number of years ago there was a famous anti-drug campaign: just say no. Whether it worked or not is unclear, but let me just say that it was a good starting point (on its own it was doomed to fail without something to replace it). And so it is with us and sin (ungodliness and worldly passions). It’s a start. Is it the be all to end all? Part of the problem is that we put ourselves in situations that are tempting and once we’re down that path, it’s next to impossible to turn back.

What areas of temptation are you susceptible to? Only you can answer that. Scripture does tell us that we can say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions.

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JB, What a Character!

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath…” Luke 3:7

John the Baptist, what a character! He ate locusts and wild honey, and his clothes were made of camel’s hair (Matthew 3:4). He wasn’t exactly on any List of the Top 100 Best Dressed people in the world! Some found him downright obnoxious. But boy was he fearless (and peerless too). Not only did he dress and eat strangely, but his message was direct: you brood of vipers!

We have people like John the Baptist in our midst today. And like days gone by, not a lot of people accept them. How so, you ask? Think of someone with multiple piercings or a bright green Mohawk. Think he (or she) would be accepted in most churches? But would it be different if you looked his way and saw him raising his hands in true surrender and worship? You see, we accept people who are a little different from us, but not a lot different. Sadly, we all fall into that trap from time to time.

We need to ask God to be more accepting and less judgmental. It doesn’t always come natural to us. There will be people in heaven who look, sound, and smell quite different than we do. We might as well get used to it here.

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Only One Returned

“Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. Luke 17:11-19

This is a story of simple faith. Ten lepers came to Jesus asking to be healed. They were healed on the way to the priest. In other words, when Jesus told them to go to the priest, they were not yet healed! They had to have faith that what this man said would be true by the time they arrived at the priest

Then only one returned to thank Jesus (a Samaritan, no less), though I’m sure the others had an impressive story to tell. Sadly, they never returned to thank Jesus.

As Christians we have much to thank Jesus for. Take out a piece of paper and just write down your blessings. Then give that list over to God, thanking Him for those blessings. We never want to be accused of not being thankful people.

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No Beauty or Majesty

He had no beauty or majesty that we should be attracted to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him… Isaiah 53:2b

That’s a pretty sobering verse, isn’t it? Hollywood would pass him by, just as the average man or woman on the street would. Were he walking the Earth in human form today, he would be plain and ordinary, dare I say, ugly? Obviously it wasn’t about the externals for God.

Jesus taught that throughout the New Testament. It’s what’s inside that counts. Inside. Inside. Your internal beauty is far more significant than external. Unfortunately, that’s hard for us to hear because we glamorize all the external things: beauty, clothes, positions, connections, degrees, IQs.

We have to be constantly on our guard against this wrong kind of thinking. Next time you see one of those paintings of Jesus on the wall (tanned and bearded), thank God that He probably didn’t look that good. Then thank Him for valuing internal beauty infinitely more than externals.

Internal beauty.

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Pride

“The pride of your heart has deceived you…” Obadiah 1:3

As the passage points out, pride is deceptive. Often you don’t even realize that you have it. Others must point it out to you! Pride ultimately is what doomed Satan and his angels. They thought they were as good as or even better than God.

I think of two brothers I once knew. They was an fifteen years age difference. The younger said to the older, “I don’t need any help” when he was carrying an extremely heavy load inside the house  The older, smiled as he watched his kid brother struggle to accomplish his task. An extra set of hands would have made the load much lighter but the younger boy didn’t want to hear of it. He was going to carry it into the house if it was he last thing he did.

We smile because we’ve seen that kind of interaction between siblings. Why wouldn’t the younger boy accept help? Pride.

Sadly, we say the same thing to God, often without uttering a word. We do things on our own without calling out for God’s input or wisdom or insight. We carry burdens we were never meant to carry.

Now would be a really good time to lift those burdens off and give them over to God. The first step is to admit our pride. It’s a large first step but it will open many other doors.

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