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Jesus used parables, stories, and other forms of communication with his students.

| Psalms 23 |
Did God Create Evil? |
Making a Difference | 
| God's Wings |
| Be a Flower | 
| Only Know I'm Loved | 

| Center Verse of the Bible | 
| Hands |
| God Lives Under the Bed |

| The Little Hut |
| Iraq in the Bible |
| The Preacher & the Deacon |
| On Commitment |

Subject: Twenty-third Psalm Explained

This is an eye opener; probably we never thought about it nor looked at this Psalm in this way, even though we say it over and over again.

The Lord is my Shepherd — that's Relationshi
I shall not want — that's Supply!
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures — that's Rest!
He leadeth me beside the still waters — that's Refreshment!
He restoreth my soul — that's Healing!
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness — that's Guidance!
For His name sake — that's Purpose!
Yea, though I walkthrough the valley of the shadow of death — that's Testing!
I will fear no evil — that's Protection!
For Thou art with me — that's Faithfulness!
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me — that's Discipline!
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies — that’s Hope!
Thou annointest my head with oil – that’s Consecration!
My cup runneth over – that’s Abundance!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life – that’s Blessing!
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord – that’s Security!
Forever – that’s Eternity! barbers do exist, what happens is that people do not come to me."

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One for the professor...

Does evil exist? Did God create evil?

The University professor challenged his students with this question. "Did God create everything that exists?" A student bravely replied, "Yes he did!" "God created everything?" The professor asked. "Yes sir", the student replied.

The professor answered, "If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are, then God is evil."

The student became quiet before such an answer. The professor, quite pleased with himself, boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, "Can I ask you a question professor?" "Of course", replied the professor.

The student stood up and asked, "Professor does cold exist?"

"What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?" The students snickered at the young man's question.

The young man replied, "In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460? F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat."

The student continued, "Professor, does darkness exist?" The professor responded, "Of course it does."

The student replied, "Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present."

Finally the young man asked the professor, "Sir, does evil exist?"

Now uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course as I have already said. We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.

To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."

The professor sat down.

The young man's name -- Albert Einstein

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The story is told of a water bearer in India who had two large pots. They hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck, but one of the pots had a crack in it. While the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his master's house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

In his compassion, the water bearer said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

It is an amazing thing (but true) that God is able to accomplish some wonderful things through our efforts, in spite of our imperfections. Paul said of his role as a preacher of the gospel:

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." (2 Cor. 4:7).

Though we may often feel inadequate and useless, if we will continue about the task that God has given us, we will produce fruit and influence lives in ways we may not even be aware of.

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (I Cor. 15:58).

May your life "abound" this day in the work of the Lord! Though you may feel like a "cracked pot", your efforts are not in vain.

Received as a "Thought for the Day" from Alan Smith, Boone church of Christ, Boone, NC.

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When I say..."I am a Christian,"
I'm not shouting "I am saved;"
I'm whispering "I was lost,"
That is why I chose this way.

When I say..."I am a Christian,"
I don't speak of this with pride;
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need someone to be my guide.

When I say..."I am a Christian,"
I'm not trying to be strong;
I'm professing that I'm weak
and pray for strength to carry on.

When I say..."I am a Christian,"
I'm not bragging of success;
I'm admitting I have failed
and cannot ever pay the debt.

When I say..."I am a Christian,"
I'm not claiming to be perfect;
My flaws are too visible
but, God believes I'm worth it.

When I say..."I am a Christian,"
I still feel the sting of pain;
I have my share of heartaches,
which is why I speak His name.

When I say..."I am a Christian,"
I do not wish to judge;
I have no authority,
I only know I'm loved!

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An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God's wings...

After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings.

The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety, but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast.

Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live...

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge..." Psalms 91:4

Being loved this much should make a difference in your life. Remember the One who loves you and then be different because of it.

National Geographic

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Did you know that:

1.    Psalm 118 is the middle chapter of the entire bible?
2.    Psalm 117 before Psalm 118, is the shortest chapter in the bible?
3.    Psalm 119 after Psalm 118, is the longest chapter in the bible?
4.    The Bible has 594 chapters before Psalm 118 and 594 chapters after Psalm 118?
5.    If you add up all the chapters except Psalm 118, you get a total of 1188 chapters.
6.    1188 or Psalm 118, verse 8, is the middle verse of the entire bible?

Should the central verse not have an important message?

"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man."

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Once knew a Sergeant in the Army who decided to add a little beauty to the motor pool where he worked. He got permission from the captain to plant flowers beside the door to his office which was in a steel hut amidst rows of trucks and tanks.

He ordered a private to dig out the fuel-polluted soil and bring in good soil from down the road. Then he planted beautiful gloxinia, a type of giant petunia. They grew in all colors of the rainbow.

There, among the machines of war, soldierly curses, and toxic mud, grew gorgeous bright blooms. One of the soldiers worried that someone would accidentally step on the flowers and built a small, pretty fence around the plot. The Sergeant assigned the private to keep the plants watered and fed. The man enjoyed this task as a respite from working on the machines and willingly practiced all that his mother had taught him about the care of garden plants.

For years, even after the Sergeant left for another base, the small garden was maintained by the men of the motor pool. Many types of flowers were grown over the years and always, they beautified an otherwise ugly place.

Those flowers had no choice but to live there. They could have wilted in despair from the ugliness around them, the death-machines, the cursing, the killers-of-men. They could have grown stunted wishing they were planted in a country garden or that they were a part of the landscaping of a beautiful building.

Instead, they bloomed with all their might right where they were. They spread sweet scent and glorious color, telling those in the motor pool, "There IS a God. We are proof of His existence. Behold His perfection."

This is a true story. I was the Sergeant. The private was Jerry Tracey and he continued caring for the garden after I left. He later told me that, after he became a Sergeant, he assigned another to care for it and that man also maintained it after Tracey left. We know of at least 8 years that that little plot of ground was a garden. The flowers always bloomed and the soldiers were continually blessed by their beauty.

Hang in there! Be a flower!
Randy Chew, WEI Teacher

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Don’t cut somebody else’s cocoon.

A man found a cocoon and brought it home to see how a butterfly will hatch out of it. At last, one day a small hole appeared in the cocoon. For several hours the man had been watching the butterfly trying to squeeze its tiny body through the hole. Suddenly, the butterfly seemed to stop pushing forward. The man thought that it had stuck in there. So he decided to help the butterfly get released: he took the scissors and cut the rest of the cocoon so that the butterfly could come out of it.

Soon the butterfly appeared. Its body was swollen, and the wings were wrinkled. All its life the butterfly had crawled on its swollen body with wrinkled wings. It could never fly. In a hurry the man did not realize that the problem and certain struggle to get released from the cocoon were in God’s plan. In that way the liquid from butterfly’s body was transferring into its wings so that it could fly immediately after getting released from the cocoon.

Just like a butterfly must struggle to get released from the cocoon and then fly, we also must struggle to become who we are to be. Sometimes we want God to take the struggle out of our lives and remove the obstacles from our ways. But just like the man made the butterfly crippled, we also might become crippled in our lives. God does not remove all the obstacles and difficulties from our lives. He promises to be with us in times of difficulties and use them to strengthen us, make us better and stronger.

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An old man, probably some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the park bench. He didn't move, just sat with his head down staring at his hands.  When I sat down beside him he didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if he was ok.

Finally, not really wanting to disturb him but wanting to check on him at the same time, I asked him if he was ok.  He raised his head and looked at me and smiled.

Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking, he said in a clear strong voice.

I didn't mean to disturb you, sir, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were ok I explained to him.

Have you ever looked at your hands he asked.  I mean really looked at your hands?

I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them.  I turned them over, palms up and then palms down.  No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point he was making.

Then he smiled and related this story:
Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years.  These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life.  They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor.  They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back.  As a child my mother taught me to fold them in prayer.  They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots.  They dried the tears of my children and caressed the love of my life.  They held my rifle and wiped my tears when I went off to war.  They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent.  They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. 

Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special.  They wrote the letters home and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse and walked my daughter down the aisle.  Yet, they were strong and sure when I dug my buddy out of a foxhole and lifted a plow off of my best friends foot.  They have held children, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand.  They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body.  They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw.  And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer.  These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of my life.

But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And He won't care about where these hands have been or what they have done. What He will care about is to whom these hands belong and how much He loves these hands.  And with these hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ.

No doubt I will never look at my hands the same again.  I never saw the old man again after I left the park that day but I will never forget him and the words he spoke.  When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and wife I think of the man in the park.  I have a feeling he has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God.  I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel his hands upon my face.

Thank you, Father God, for hands.

Written by Melinda Clements - 2004


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Don't start reading this one until you've got more than 3 or 4 minutes to just "scan" over it. It deserves some time for reflection.

My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped outside his closed door to listen. "Are you there, God?" he said. "Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed."

I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room.

Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.

He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult.

He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas, and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed. The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child. He does not seem dissatisfied. He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work.

He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.

And Saturdays-oh, the bliss of Saturdays!

That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculates loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. "That one's goin' to Chi-car-go!" Kevin shouts as he claps his hands. His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights.

And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips.

He doesn't know what it means to be discontented. His life is simple. He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats.

His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be.

His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it.

He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax.

He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others.

His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue.

Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere.

And, he trusts God.

Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an "educated" person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.

In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions. It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap - I am.

My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care.

Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God. And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed.

Kevin won't be surprised at all!

Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive. There is no cost, but a lot of rewards. Pray for those around you with the simple mindedness of those who think God lives under the bed.


From an email source

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The Little Hut

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened - everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger.

"God, how could you do this to me?" he cried.

Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him.

"How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers.
"We saw your smoke signal," they replied.

It's easy to get discouraged sometimes when things appear to be going badly. But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground, it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.

For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has a positive answer for it.

You say, "It's impossible".
God says: "All thing are possible". (Luke 18:27)

You say, "I'm too tired."
God says: "I will give you rest". (Matt 11:28-20)

You say, "Nobody really loves me".
God says: "I love you". (John 3:16 - John 13:34)

You say, "I can't go on."
God says: "My grace is sufficient." (II Cor. 12:9 - Psalm 91:15)

You say, "I can't figure things out."
God says: "I will direct your steps." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say, "I can't do it."
God says: "You can do all things in Me." (Phil 4:13)

You say, "It's not worth it."
God says: "It will be worth it." (Romans 8:28)

You say, "I can't forgive myself."
God says: "I forgive you." (I John 1:9 - Romans 8:1)

You say, "I can't manage."
God says: "I will supply all your needs." (Phil 4:19)

You say, "I'm afraid."
God says: "I have not given you a spirit of fear." (II Tim. 1:7)

You say, "I'm always worried and frustrated".
God says: "Cast all your cares on ME" (I Peter 5:7)

You say, "I don't have enough faith."
God says: "I've given everyone a measure of faith." (Romans 12:3)

You say, "I'm not smart enough."
God says: "I give you wisdom." (I Cor. 1:30)

You say, "I feel all alone."
God says: "I will never leave you or forsake you." (Heb. 13:5)

Pass this on. You never know whose life may be in need of this today.


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1. The garden of Eden was in Iraq.

2. Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq, was the cradle of civilization!

3. Noah built the ark in Iraq.

4. The Tower of Babel was in Iraq.

5. Abraham was from Ur, which is in Southern Iraq!

6. Isaac's wife Rebekah is from Nahor, which is in Iraq.

7. Jacob met Rachel in Iraq.

8. Jonah preached in Nineveh - which is in Iraq.

9. Assyria, which is in Iraq, conquered the ten tribes of Israel.

10. Amos cried out in Iraq!

11. Babylon, which is in Iraq, destroyed Jerusalem.

12. Daniel was in the lion's den in Iraq!

13. The three Hebrew children were in the fire in Iraq (Jesus had been in Iraq also as the fourth person in the fiery furnace!)

14. Belshazzar, the King of Babylon saw the "writing on the wall" in Iraq.

15. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, carried the Jews captive into Iraq.

16. Ezekiel preached in Iraq.

17. The wise men were from Iraq.

18. Peter preached in Iraq.

19. The "Empire of Man" described in Revelation is called Babylon, which was a city in Iraq!

And you have probably seen this one. Israel is the nation most often mentioned in the Bible. But do you know which nation is second? It is Iraq!

However, that is not the name that is used in the Bible. The names used in the Bible are Babylon, Land of Shinar, and Mesopotamia. The word Mesopotamia means between the two rivers, more exactly between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The name Iraq, means country with deep roots.

Indeed Iraq is a country with deep roots and is a very significant country in the Bible.

No other nation, except Israel, has more history and prophecy associated it than Iraq.


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The Preacher and Deacon

A preacher and deacon were playing golf one day. Each time before the minister prepared to putt he would bow his head, close his eyes, and his lips would move as he silently prayed, and then he open his eyes and then proceeded to tap the ball into the hole. This went on for a few more holes and the preacher prayed and never missed a putt. At the same time, the deacon was struggling on the greens. He missed one putt after another, and his score was going higher and higher. So after nine holes, the deacon asked the preacher at the turn, "Preacher, if I said a little prayer like you do before each putt, do you think it would help my putting?" The preacher said, "No. Praying is not going to help you." Surprised the deacons asked, "Why not?" The preacher said, "Because you don't know how to putt."

It's funny how people sometimes think that just going through some perfunctory religious gesture will make a difference. Just going through the religious motions will somehow make you religious. It's either inside of you or it's not.

Someone has said, "If your religion does not change you, then you should change your religion." Those are good words.

You think about it!
Kevin Rayner
Oak Tree Church of Christ
Rochester, MN

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On Commitment

During a confrontation between Malaysia and Indonesia in 1964, a group of Gurkhas from Nepal were asked if they would be willing to jump from transport planes into combat if the need arose. The Gurkhas had the right to turn down the request because they had never been trained as paratroopers.

The Gurkhas usually agreed to anything, but on this occasion they rejected the plan. However, the next day they sought out the British officer who made the request and said they had reconsidered and were prepared to jump under the following conditions: The ground was marshy or reasonably soft with no rocky outcrops and they wanted the plane to fly slowly as possible at no more that 100 feet high.

The British officer assured the Gurkhas that all these conditions could be met except one. To jump from only 100 feet was impossible, because the parachutes would not open in time from that height.

Then the Gurkhas said, "Oh, will we be wearing parachutes? You didn't mention parachutes before. In that case we'll jump anywhere with parachutes!"

When I read that story, I can't help but compare the commitment those men had with the commitment that we ought to have to Christ. Here is a group of people so committed to their leaders that they were actually willing to jump out of an airplane from 100 feet without a parachute! And yet, that's the kind of commitment that God expects from His people -- a willingness to go anywhere, do anything, even if it means giving up our lives.

When God asks us to do something, our immediate reaction is often to ask, "How much time will I have to give up?" or "How much money will it cost me?" The faith of Abraham in being willing to give up his only son seems foreign to us. We are so resistant to giving everything to God.

But Jesus says: "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 16:24-25)

When God says jump, our only response should be, "From how high?"

Have a great day!

Alan Smith
Helen Street Church of Christ
Fayetteville, North Carolina

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"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man."

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