Welcome to the March 2001 Archive. You are welcome to read the entire archive, or find a topic on the list below that is of interest to you. Just click the link, and you will be taken directly to the day it was written. Enjoy, and may you know God's peace as you read His Word.
    You are welcome to use these writings or pass them on. All we ask is that in all things you remember the Author and give Him the glory, and remember this vessel which He has used to bring them to you. Peggy Hoppes


Topics

Wisdom

Foolishness

Gifts

World

Prayer

Listening

Action

Charity

Faithfulness

Promise

Change

Children

Justification

Truth

Authority

Grace

Death

Counterfeit

Free

Readiness

Worth

False Teachers

Mercy

Avoidance

Light

Discouragement

Encouragement

Wisdom

Forgiveness

Actions

Grace


A WORD FOR TODAY


When writing, I used the New International Version of the Bible. Due to copyright restrictions, I have not included quotes for the scriptures, but highly encourage you to open your own bibles to read the scripture passages for yourselves. Where scripture is quoted, I used the American Standard Version of the Holy Bible which belongs to the public domain.



A WORD FOR TODAY, March 2001





March 1, 2001

Wiseacre  It is said that this word came into existence in the pub called the Devil on Fleet Street in London. Ben Jonson was a writer and actor who lived during the Elizabethan years in England. While visiting the pub a local landowner boasted of his wealth. It is said that Jonson replied, "What care we for your dirt and clods? Where you have an acre of land, I have ten acres of wit." The gentleman retorted by calling Ben, "Good Mr. Wiseacre."

Though Ben Jonson was able to write and answer with great wit, his wisdom was not necessarily one we should emulate. He was known to be arrogant and to lose his temper. He shot and killed Gabriel Spencer in a dual. He was imprisoned and sentenced to death. Due to an ancient law that saw clergy as touched by God and above human law, Ben Johnson was released. He was not a priest, but he could read Latin, something he had taught himself to do.

He was a stubborn and angry man, but had many students. He was greatly respected by the literary establishment. He changed religions numerous times. His plays put down the establishment and foolishness of the world in which he lived, yet he was honoured by kings and queens. He was known to be wise, though his life did not always show true wisdom.

Read James 3:13-18

True wisdom comes from God and is revealed in the way you live your life. If you are quick to anger or seek to advance in the ways of the world, then your wisdom is earthly. James tells us how we can recognize those who have wisdom from heaven. They are not 'wiseacres'; they are considerate, submissive, and merciful. The fruit that is produced is the good fruit that comes from the Spirit of God. Peace follows wherever they go. Thanks be to God.

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March 2, 2001

This Word first ran on March 2, 2000.

Dr. Seuss  "Do you like Green Eggs and Ham?" "I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham."

Theodore Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, wrote these infamous words. Dr. Seuss was born on March 2, 1904. Today we are celebrating the utter foolishness written by this man. This literature that seems to have no reason within has made an incredible contribution to the education of our children.

Children love to sit and read Dr. Seuss books because they have fun pictures, interesting characters and exciting stories. The catchy rhythms catch the attention of the children and draw them into the stories. The repetition helps them to learn to read the simple words and patterns used. The stories, though they seem silly, are filled with life lessons which help the children learn and grow. In Green Eggs and Ham, Sam-I-am convinces his friend to try something new. After fifty pages of certain disgust at the thought of eating green eggs and ham, the gentleman discovers that he likes them.

That which seems like foolishness is filled with wisdom.

Read 1 Corinthians 1:20-25

In today's world, so much of the Christian message is viewed as foolishness. We are called to submit to God, and yet the world claims there is no God. We are called to love our neighbor, and yet the world says that we should love our selves. The Gospel tells us that God in flesh died so that we might have life. What foolishness! Yet, God is wiser and more powerful than anything we can imagine, and we know that He loved His children so much that He did everything necessary to reconcile us to Him. I'll take Dr. Seuss above a grammar book and God's foolishness above my wisdom, any day!

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March 3, 2001

Public Speaking  On a rerun of “WKRP in Cincinnati” I recently watched, Mr. Carlson was set to speak in front of a crowd of broadcasters, and he was very nervous about the experience. He received plenty of advice as people shared with him different ways to relax. He was told to practice his speech in front of a friendly audience, the employees of the radio station. Jennifer told him to imagine the entire audience in their underwear. After all, how could he be nervous with a smile on his face? Somehow Mr. Carlson got through the experience, but it is not something he would readily volunteer to do again.

In the past few years, I have had several opportunities to speak before conferences and congregations. I enjoy the opportunities to stand in front of a group to share my faith and knowledge of scriptures. I usually do not volunteer to do such tasks, perhaps because I prefer to be asked rather than seem too forward or pushy. Unfortunately, I recently discovered that if I do not let know my talents and gifts, they feel awkward about asking. After a speaking engagement in England shortly before moving, someone said, “Why do we always realize a person’s gifts on their way out the door?” The lesson I learned was that we need to ensure that those around us know how we are gifted to serve the Lord so that they can help us find the work to do. We are expected to put our gifts to work for God’s glory.

Read Luke 19:13

In this parable from Jesus, the master gave his servants money to work while he was in another country. When he returned, he found one of the servants had doubled the money. The second servant had earned half as much back. The third servant did nothing with the money, simply buried it, because he knew the master was harsh and would take the earnings for himself.

The first servant was given charge of ten cities. The second servant was given charge of five cities. The third servant received nothing, and everything he had was taken away. Jesus says in verse 26, “ I say unto you, that unto every one that hath shall be given; but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away from him.” Do not put your talents to waste. Make sure those around you know what you can do, so that they will help you find a way to serve. Jesus expects us to be doing as we are called to do when He returns. Will you be actively serving Him or simply sitting and waiting for someone to ask you to do something? God gives gifts to be used. Go and serve the Lord.

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March 4, 2001

World  The weather reports and news are filled with stories about severe storms and the accompanying wind, tornadoes, floods, ice and snow. Earthquakes and volcanoes are wreaking havoc on cities around the world. In other parts of the world drought is causing crops to fail, increasing the hunger and poverty in places where children are already dying. Leaders around the world seek fame, wealth and power above justice and mercy. Innocent people are dying in useless wars over things that really do not matter.

Many men look at the world and say; “There is no God.” At times, even those with great faith wonder why there is suffering in the world. We cry out to the Lord for healing and peace, yet we do not see the relief we expect from our pain. So, the world turns to its own solutions – money, material possessions, drugs and weapons of violence. They deny God and make gods of the perishable things. They try to draw us into the same tempting us with fear, anger, lust, pride and hatred. They say that power, wealth and fame are the rewards of faith. The world puts an emphasis on self glory, denying the Almighty God.

Read Psalm 115:1-8

Many deny the existence of the one true and living God. They say there is no God. Yet, they have made gods out of things that are made with human hands. Those who live by that – the ways of the world – will be as the world. The world is perishable, all things created will pass away with time. One thing is imperishable, and that is the Lord. In Jesus name, and by His blood, we can have eternal life. We know where our God is, in heaven and in us, and it is in Him that we can speak, see, hear, smell, feel, walk and cry out to the Lord. Do not be as the world, know who you are and whose you are, and continue in faith that God is in control. To God be the glory, honour and praise.

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March 5, 2001

Tile  Our church is under construction. God is blessing us with a larger facility so that we can expand our ministry in this town. Our programme is called, “A Holy Place for a Holy People” and this expansion has not simply been in a new building. The spiritual life of our congregation is growing through prayer and the study of God’s Word. The members are doing much of the work. They call it sweat equity, putting yourselves as well as you money into the work.

This weekend, we laid the first tiles on the floor of our new sanctuary. If ever you wondered how many Lutherans it takes to lay tile, the answer is 10. As one member knelt with trowel and tile, others were standing watching. It was an important moment for the progress, and we wanted to be a part of it. Yet, our standing there did little to help the cause. The one who was working was the one on her knees.

Read Ephesians 6:18

After the first tile was laid, we went back to work, each with their own task. Yet, at that moment we were all humbled by the greatness of the work that lies ahead for us. We do not know who will walk on those tiles. Many will come into our place, seeking a relationship with the one true and living God, to be forgiven of sin and begin life anew. We must face this work, as they did as they lay tile, on our knees in prayer.

You too must begin every task on your knees, praying at all times for God to bless your life and Christ’s church. On your knees, humbled before God in submission to His Will, you will accomplish great things for His Glory. Thanks be to God.

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March 6, 2001

Icarus and Daedalus  There is a famous Greek myth called Icarus and Daedalus. Daedalus, the father, was a very clever builder, so he was called to Crete to build a prison for King Minos’ Minotaur. Daedalus took his son, and they built a Labyrinth, which was impossible to escape. Minos was so impressed by the work, he did not allow the two to leave the island, locking them in a tower beside the sea. Every ship leaving Crete was searched, because Daedalus was clever enough to escape such a tower. There seemed to be no escape, but Daedalus refused to give up. He realized they could escape by air, so he used his gifts to create wings for each of them out of feathers and wax. When the wings were complete, he taught his son how to use them and warned him of the dangers. He told Icarus not to fly too high or too low – too high and the sun would melt the wax, too low and the sea mist would make the wings too heavy.

The two took off, and the flight was wonderful. Icarus felt great joy at the freedom he had flying through the air. He soared higher and higher. Daedalus shouted a word of warning, but Icarus did not hear. He rose to such a height the wax melted and his wings fell apart. He crashed into the ocean and his father was never able to find him again.

It is important for us to listen to those who teach and warn us about the dangers of life. We raise our children, warning them to stay away from the stove, to be careful when the cross the road, and to study hard. Teachers show us how to do things, and help us to avoid making the wrong decisions in life. We are blessed with people in our churches and lives that help guide and direct our path through God’s Word. As we grow in faith, it is important to listen to those God sends our way to teach, rebuke, correct and train us in righteousness.

Read Psalm 34:8-14

When someone speaks a word of warning, such as Daedalus spoke to Icarus, it is to guard and protect you from harm. There are times in our spiritual growth that we must listen to the warnings of others, because we feel the joy and the freedom that comes from life in Christ, but we do not always see the dangers ahead. If someone has spoken a word of warning from God, listen and receive it. Do not fear the dangers that come, but know they exist and avoid them. Do not fly too high or too low. Live as you should, in truth and peace and love – in Christ. He is your refuge, and will provide all you need. Thanks be to God.

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March 7, 2001

Shooting  This week, yet another school is dealing with the incredible fear and pain that accompanies an event such as happened in San Diego. The school has been cleaned, repainted and the students are returning to classes today. But new paint doesn’t take away the emotional distress they have gone through. As investigators try to discover the reason this young man took a gun to his teachers and peers, one thing is clear. This boy did not hide his plans from the world. He spent the weekend telling people about how he was going to ‘Columbine’ the school. They heard and, and were concerned, but he assured them that he was kidding. An adult who overheard the statements questioned the boy, but did nothing because he thought he was kidding. They did nothing to stop the shooting.

In Little Rock yesterday, a school went under complete lock-down for most of the day. A note threatening a teacher was found and the authorities did everything necessary to avoid catastrophe. Every student, teacher and staff member were searched, as well as lockers and possessions. They heard the cry and acted upon it. They are still searching for the person who made the threat, but today there are no dead children or teachers.

People speak to be heard. When we hear what people say, good or bad, we need to act upon it. If the words spoken will bring pain or suffering, we should do all we can to stop the evil. If the words spoken will bring hope, peace, joy, love and life, then we should act upon it by doing what the speaker encourages us to do. Our Lord Jesus came speaking words of life, and He desires that we act.

Read Matthew 7:24-27

If someone had acted upon the words of the young man in San Diego, the lives of those people would not have been disrupted in such a painful way. Jesus Christ came bringing an incredible message of hope and love, but many did not hear. Even today, there are millions of Christians who have heard the message of the Gospel, but do not act upon the words Jesus spoke. Are you living a life of faith, with your house built on the rock? Or is your life of faith being built on shifting sand, as you do not obey the words He spoke? Put your faith into practice, so that the world will know the greatness of God and seek their own relationship with Him. It could be a matter of life or death.

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March 8, 2001

Invisible  I recently saw an episode of “Frasier” where Frasier felt invisible. Roz was in charge of a big project for the station and Frasier was going to help with it. At a meeting that was held to discuss plans for the project, Frasier repeatedly offered suggestions. Each time, Roz shot him down, turning to others for ideas. At times, the others gave exactly the same ideas and Roz loved them. Frasier became so upset by the attitude Roz was taking that he set her up by having someone else present his ideas to her. She loved them and he asked her why. She said that he always takes over things, always needs to be the middle of the attention, and this was her project.

There are times when we just get tired of listening to folk like that – people who do anything to be the center of attention. At times, we’ll even ignore everything they say, despite the fact that they are good ideas or even tell them to be quiet. At times they are so starved to be heard, that they will seek attention in a negative way.

In the days of Jesus, people who suffered from disabilities had great difficulty earning a living. They were seen as being sinful and unclean. They were set aside, received no help and no care. There was no training to be offered to help them care for themselves, so they inevitably turned to begging to make a living. During times of pilgrimage, they could be found calling outside the city gate to the pilgrims. The people passing would often ignore them or tell them to be quiet.

Read Luke 18:35-43

So often, people just want to be heard. They even may have a good idea. In the case of this beggar, he just wanted Jesus to hear his request, but the people following Jesus didn’t want him to be bothered. The beggar knew that Jesus was the Son of David, a title that referred to the Messiah, and he knew Jesus offered him hope. But the people told him to be quiet. Jesus called him over, and told him that his faith healed him. The beggar received his site and went praising God.

Do you ever face people who want to know the Saviour face to face, but you have a million reasons why you won’t share Him with them? People just want to be heard, and to know the Gospel. So, the next time you see someone calling out to Christ, don’t ignore their cry. Listen with open ears and share with them the Lord Jesus Christ.

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March 9, 2001

Daniel and the Lion’s Den  Daniel the Prophet lived during the time of the exile. He was found to be a great prophet by the Babylonians when he interpreted dreams and solved difficult problems with his insight, intelligence and wisdom. He was able to tell Belshazzar that the writing on the wall he had not humbled himself before God as his father Nebuchadnezzar had done. He would die because he had set himself up against the LORD. When Belshazzar was slain, Darius of Mede became the new king.

Darius appointed Daniel as one of three administrators over the rulers of the kingdom. Daniel was such a good administrator, that Darius planned to set him over all the others. The other administrators and rulers did not like Daniel, so they plotted to be rid of him forever. They went to the king and said that he should publish a decree that for 30 days everyone must worship only the king and that all that worship another god will be put into the lion’s den. When Daniel heard of this decree, he went to his room and prayed to God. He continued to pray to God despite the danger.

The administrators caught Daniel in the act of prayer and told Darius about his disobedience. Darius was disturbed by this turn of events because he had great respect for Daniel, but a written decree could not be revoked. Darius tried to save Daniel, but at sundown he was thrown into the den. Darius said, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

Daniel was left in the den, which was covered with a stone and it was sealed by the signet rings of the king and the nobles. The king could not eat or sleep through the night. At dawn, the king went to the den and called out to Daniel asking if his God had saved him. Daniel was indeed alive, protected by an angel of the Lord and found innocent before Him. The men who plotted Daniel’s death were then thrown into the den and crushed by the lions.

Read Daniel 6:25-27

In this story, God proves His faithfulness to those who continue to walk in His ways and keep their eyes set toward Him. Daniel was willing to risk His life to stay in a close relationship with God. Darius liked Daniel and would not do anything to see him hurt, but the others touched on his ego and convinced him that all were in agreement to the decree. They lied and manipulated the situation to make their plan work.

Sometimes, those in this world who do not know the Lord God Almighty allow themselves to be set up by those who hate our faith. Satan uses such people to wreak havoc on the Church and believers. They do not understand what they have done. God protects His children, and in the end all see His greatness and His power. There are times when it appears that evil is winning in our world, but we know that God has already won the war. In the end all knees will bow before the Lord. This will happen by choice or by force. Which is true of you?

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March 10, 2001

Stars  When we go out on a cool summer evening, we inevitably look up at the stars in the sky. In the city, even in the quieter sections of town, we can only see a few hundred, perhaps a thousand stars, but we know there are far more. The lights from the city, even our neighbour’s living room lights, block the twinkle of the fainter stars. He was a man whose life depended on the continuation of his family line. For him, everlasting life was land and sons. Even herds of cattle or household wealth were fleeting. One bad year or an outbreak of disease, and a family could be ruined. When Abraham was a younger man, he believed in local gods, household icons that brought rain, children or crops, whatever was needed to live day by day. One day, however, a strange new God spoke directly to him and said, “GO”. Abraham didn’t know where he was headed, but he took his wife and possessions and followed the voice. This God promised Abraham that he would become a great nation and that the world would be blessed through his life. After years of following the voice of this strange God, Abraham and Sara remained childless.

Time passed and in Genesis 15, Abraham was in his seventies and Sara was in her sixties, well past childbearing age. Abraham asked God about the promise. After all, he was aged and had no heirs to carry on his life. His inheritance would go to a servant in his house, rather than a son. God spoke to Abraham saying, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be.” The sky Abraham saw was filled with millions of stars because there was no city to blot out their twinkling lights. It was an incredible promise – impossible without even one son. Yet, Abraham believed the LORD, and it was credited to him as righteousness. God did not judge Abraham according to an established measure of law – there was no written law at this time. Rather, Abraham was found righteous because he responded to God’s Word with faith. True righteousness is having a right relationship with God – to trust in Him above all else; above our thoughts, desires, wishes and dreams; and to live a life of faith that shows that trust.

Read Romans 4:1-8

God fulfilled His promise to Abraham, and at 100 years old he became the father of Isaac. After Isaac was Jacob and the Israelites, then through Jesus Christ every child who believed in His name was a child of Abraham. He became the father of millions. The promise seemed impossible, but God was faithful. The promise in today’s scripture, that our sins are forgiven and forgotten, seems to be impossible. How could God forgive the things we have done against Him? Yet, we are blessed by such a promise and the faithfulness of our God through our faith in Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God.

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March 11, 2001

Change  We were having a lovely dinner last night, the whole family eating and sharing in the fellowship of a close family unit. We were laughing and sharing stories about our day. Dinnertime in many families can be a hectic time, with kids needing to be taken to some activity or parents going to meetings. Most times, families do not even talk to each other. They simply eat and run separate directions, living their own lives. The parents are as guilty as the children are. There are times when I would just rather not even talk to anyone.

As we chatted last night, I realized how incredible my children truly are. They both spoke with wisdom far beyond their age. Zack in particular said something that made us laugh and think. He has, in the past, tended to be rather bossy toward his sister and parents. Last night he said, “I’m not so bossy anymore, I’m a changed man.” He knew he was doing something wrong and he has started to change his ways.

Read Matthew 18:1-4

We can learn so much from our children. When we do not spend time with them, we miss out on the lessons of life they can give to us. Take time to have a good dinner tonight with your family. Don’t just eat and run. Sit and fellowship. Listen to the things the children have to say, the changes in their own lives. Pray for them and with them. Grasp on to their hopes and dreams and make them part of your own vision for the future. Learn from them, about how to be humble, how to change your ways. And thank God for your children. They are a gift.

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March 12, 2001

More Change  Our church is undergoing a major improvement project. We are building a new worship space, fellowship hall and classrooms for our expanding educational programmes. Yesterday we came to a great moment in the process. We were able to move the furnishings from the old sanctuary to the new. After our service, everyone worked together to lifting and hauling, pushing and placing every item out of the way so the next phase of construction could begin. For many of the long time members, it was a difficult time. They had worshipped the Lord in that place for a long time. Though they love the work He is doing in our church, they were sad to see a part of their life pass away.

Since the work was heavy and dangerous, the children were corralled in the basement to keep them out of harms way. Tiny people have such a way of getting underfoot. At one point, three-year-old Mary Claire escaped and found her way into the old sanctuary. She became quite upset. We forgot to warn her about the work we would be doing. We often push the children aside, forgetting to make them a part of our experience of living in Jesus Christ.

Read Mark 10:13-16

It is a wonderful, hectic, frightening, joyous, sad and blessed time for all of us, including the children. We need to allow them to be a part of it, to sit on the lap of our Lord and be blessed by His comfort through these confusing times.

Is there some way you are keeping your children away from Jesus? I’ve heard Christian parents say that they will not push their faith on their children, wanting them to choose Jesus for themselves. They do not take them to Sunday school or pray with them, hoping that one day the children will understand and have faith.

How will they know Jesus, the changes that can occur in our life in Christ or the joy of the promises of God if we do not share our faith with them? Take the children to Jesus and let them be a part of your life of faith in every way. He will touch them, love them and bless them. Thanks be to God.

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March 13, 2001

Success  Success is important in our society. We want to graduate at the top of our class, rise to positions of authority in our career, have the perfect family and fill our homes with things that show the world our success. For some, the end justifies the means. How we get to the point of success doesn’t matter, as long as we reach our goals. Many believe that integrity is something that matters only at the top – that we can do whatever is necessary to get there. On an episode of ‘Designing Women’, Suzanne said, “I’m going to lie, cheat and steal my way to being the most trusted woman in America.”

We take the same attitude about our Christian walk. We justify our actions as Christians by the outcome. We have our own thoughts and attitudes about living the Christian life, and we present those thoughts in a way meant to bring others to salvation. Unfortunately, our own human response is often against God’s word, using techniques that humiliate and force or bring fear and accusation to the lost. We claim that people are no spiritual enough or we will abandon them if they do not believe as we do. We bring them to Christ by making them afraid. This is not a holy fear, however. They do not fear the Lord with a reverence that brings them on their knees in prayer and submission to Him. Rather, they fear missing out on something, or losing something, because of our own focus.

Read Romans 5:15-17

In the beginning, God created us good and gave us the freedom to do His Work as one with Him in the garden. When Adam was disobedient to the Word of God, we were removed from the Garden and every human since has been born into a sinful existence. We try to be like God, choosing our own way of doing things rather than His way. Salvation comes from one place – Jesus Christ. We can try to justify our actions by the outcome, after all it is by our words and deeds that people see and hear the message of Christ. However, it is only by His Spirit that they know the Truth of the Gospel, and that Spirit is not in fear, force, humiliation or accusation. Speak the Word of God today – in the peace, love and joy of our Lord Jesus, and do all things in His name for the Glory of God the Father.

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March 14, 2001

Yeast  When making bread or donuts, it is interesting to watch the yeast. It is a living organism, so when the proper life giving ingredients are added, it breathes and grows. The reaction of the yeast to sugar and water causes the dough to rise. Yeast ferments, which is why it is also used in the production of alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine. It has been used for thousands of years, ever since the days of the Egyptians, though it was not until the last few centuries that scientists have gained an understanding in how yeast works.

Yeast is also used for flavouring foods. The yeast works its way through the dough or liquid and enhances the flavour of the other ingredients. It gives the food a better texture, making it more pleasurable to eat or drink. Yeast has long been a valuable additive to food and is found today in everything from snacks to meat products.

In Matthew 13:33, Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to yeast. He also repeatedly warned the people to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. As in all things in our world, yeast may be good or bad. The Pharisees and Sadducees were living self-righteously, teaching the people and placing a heavy burden on their lives, while they were self-righteous in their words and actions. They lived according to the Old Covenant and considered themselves better than the rest.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, many of the followers of the Way considered themselves to be better than others, falling into sin because they were boasting in the wrong things, just like the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Read 1 Corinthians 5:6-8

Eat the bread of life, the bread that has the kingdom of God running through His life, the bread that is Jesus Christ. Do not eat bread that will perish. Fill yourself with God’s Word, in prayer and study of the scriptures. In this world today, there are many ideas about Christianity that are working their way into the belief systems of many. Unfortunately, they are of the Old Covenant, not of the Way of Jesus Christ. Rid yourself of any teachings that do not fill you with the truth.

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March 15, 2001

Julius Caesar  “Beware of the Ides of March,” a seer once told Julius Caesar. However Caesar was a man without fear. He expanded the Roman world by conquering many lands. His success led to his destruction, since his rule became oppressive. As he conquered more and more peoples, he took upon himself a title that was not deserved, but seized. He became a dictator, taking away the authority of other men. “I came, I saw, I conquered,” words spoken by Caesar, speak not only to his military victory but also to every aspect of his life.

When the seer warned Caesar of the impending doom, he was indifferent. Men who he deemed loyal surrounded him. Take Marcus Brutus, his friend and a man who he pardoned from punishment. On March 15, 44 BC, Brutus led a group of upper statesmen in the murder of Julius Caesar. They were unhappy with the manner in which Caesar had usurped their authority. He named himself dictator of the empire, making the Senate worthless. Caesar expected men like Brutus to remain loyal because they reached their positions of authority by his grace. They did what they felt was necessary for the empire.

Caesar was not God; he was not even a god. He was a man who stepped over the line of his given authority and stole an empire. However, murder is never a right solution.

Read 1 Peter 3:8-12

We do face oppression in this life from authorities that try to take more power than is given to them. They use the ways of deceit and violence to gain a higher place in this life. Though this is wrong, we should not repay the deceit and violence with the same. When you feel you have been wronged do not seek revenge, but rather turn your eyes to God and let Him deal with the evil.

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March 16, 2001

Cream Cheese  There is a commercial on TV for Philadelphia brand cream cheese. A pretty angel is sitting on white, fluffy clouds preparing to eat a bagel, which is loaded with cream cheese. She says, “I love heaven because I can use real Philadelphia cream cheese on my bagel.” She thoroughly enjoys eating the bagel. Then she says, “I think bagels without Philadelphia should be a sin.” Lightning flashes and thunder rumbles as God reminds the angel who decides what is sinful and what is not. She says, “It was just a suggestion!”

How often do we decide what is sinful? Throughout history, moral authority has been based on societal pressures. There have been pockets of time when words or actions that seem normal to us, have been deemed inappropriate behaviour and called sin. Dancing, smoking and drinking have often been banned by the religious leaders. Every society has an expectation for proper dress and behaviour. Those who do not fit the mold of the day are called sinners. More tolerant societies tend to place the label on those who preach and teach against the things, which are accepted by the majority. In today’s world, those who speak against certain behaviours are guilty of judging, hatred and intolerance.

So, how do we define sin? We should not be disobedient to the laws prescribed by the world, but there is only one who decides what is sin. Sin is anything that separates us from God.

Read Psalm 5:4-8

While sin separates from God, it is only by God’s grace that we can be brought back into relationship with Him. It is by His mercy, His love, His standard in Jesus Christ that we can approach His throne and live in His life. God is in control. Let Him decide what is sin, and provide the measure by which you are made clean. Thanks be to God.

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March 17, 2001

St. Patrick  Earlier this week, I received a mailing offering the true story about Patrick driving the snakes from the shores of Ireland. This mailing came from a person who is a pagan. The myth claims that Patrick beat a drum and caused all the snakes to dive into the sea. Another legend claims that there was one ornery serpent that refused to go. Patrick made a box and told the serpent to get inside. The serpent claimed it was too small. Patrick was certain he would fit, so the serpent said he would prove it by getting inside. When the serpent was in the box, Patrick slammed the lid shut and threw the box into the sea.

Ireland never had snakes, so this story has no truth in it, or does it? According to the mail I received, Christians used the snake as a symbol of paganism. Apparently the ‘snakes’ driven from the shores were people, not animals, and that Patrick committed genocide to rid the island of the non-believers. The writing claims that many people died at the hands of Patrick.

Though I have not found any record of such genocide in the history of Ireland, in a spiritual sense this story may be very true. As Patrick neared death, he shared his testimony in a statement called “The Confession of St. Patrick.” In this writing, he tells of his life in bondage of slavery, his escape, his training in missionary work and his return to the land of his captors. After he’d been in Ireland for a number of years, he sought passage back to his home in England. The ship refused to take him, so he returned to his hut and prayed. The captain changed his mind. The ship was filled with