Category Archives: Christians

What is the Church?

From a purely doctrinal and linguistic point of view, the church is those called out by God. The word translated church is a word describing a group of purposefully assembled people. But that is not the answer I wanted to share to today’s question.

What is the Church?

According to the writers of the New Covenant as guided by the Holy Spirit the Church is:photo

  • The Bride of Christ – Eph 5:32
  • The Household of God – 1 Tim 3:15
  • The Body of Christ – Col 1:22-23
  • The present Kingdom – Mat 16:18; Col 1:13

Yet, there is more to the concept of the church. The church is:

  1. People who belong to (are in) Christ.
  2. People who stand saved by Grace through Faith.
  3. Imperfect people trying to glorify a perfect God.
  4. Worshippers of the God of Salvation.
  5. Sinners Anonymous – well not so anonymous come to think of it.
  6. People who encourage each other and receive encouragement – Heb 3:13.
  7. People of Prayer
  8. People committed to Christ and His mission – Luk 19:10.

Are you in His Church?

- Scott


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Some Questions for You and Me

I thought I would start off our week with four questions and a fifth one as a concluding thought.

  1. Who do you love? That question seems simple enough. Since I asked this on a religious blog, you know the answer is God, Christ, Church, orDANGER! maybe your spouse. But then again, there are other things that we love. Answer question number 2 to really see who you love?
  2. What is your focus? Paul says in 2 Cor 4:18 that the things that are seen are transient, and the unseen things are eternal. John says the world and its desires are passing away (1 Jn 2:17). Stop for a moment, what do you spend most of your time doing? Do you focus on entertainment, business, sports, family, or self? What you spend time with is your focus, and I dare say you focus on what or who you love. Who you love and what you focus on determines your answer to question three:
  3. Who (what) do you worship? One definition of an idol is anything that takes the place of God in our priorities. In modern western culture we can quickly list a few idols: entertainment, self, money, sexuality, and sports. That last one even has temples (stadiums), high priests (star athletes), vestments (uniforms), congregants/devotees (fans), and rituals (music, seventh inning stretch, etc.) Who do you worship?
  4. Now, what will we do? James says to put away the things of the world (Jas 4:4-10) and to flee from the devil and cling to God. Can I put away my idol(s)? Will I?

Joshua challenged Israel with the following words, “choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh 24:15) — The fifth question is: What is your choice?

- Scott

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Are We Christians?

Yesterday and Friday’s posts both had over 100 readers.  Thanks, I pray that my thoughts are challenging you and encouraging you to be a better servant of God.ipad 105

Today’s post is for you personally. Are you a Christian?

Maybe the first thing I should do is define who is a Christian.

There is in our world what I call “Christian Confusion.” If you read the papers and magazines or watch news outlets you get the idea that there are a variety of definitions or ideas concerning what or who is a Christian.

Many in our world equate being a “Westerner”, esp. U.S. citizen, with being a Christian. If you are from the Western Hemisphere or if you are a U.S. citizen, much of the world considers you a Christian. I have an issue with that definition simply because it is not true. There are many people in our part of the world who are not Christians. Some are atheists and even in a rural Alabama county I have friends who are Muslim. This definition will not work.

Others consider any good moral person to be a Christian. While I hope and would think that all who claim to be Christians are good moral people, not all good moral people are Christians. I go back to my Muslim friend and some atheists I know. They are morally good, and regretfully some are more moral than a few who claim to be Christians. We can scratch that definition.

An adherent to a “church” is another common definition. I first understood this concept when I was in the U.K. in the mid 1980’s. I met a man and we began talking about my accent and where I was from in the “Colonies” as he put it. The conversation turned to my being over there to assist in a Christian Mission effort. He said, I am an R.C. (around here that’s a type of “Coke;” there an RC is a Roman Catholic). I asked about Mass and he informed me he had not attended in years, but was still a Christian because of his adherence to the Catholic Church. I have since come in contact with adherents to many denominations and non-denominational groups that have the same idea. But simply adhering is not enough. That would be like someone saying they were an avid fisherman, but does not own a pole or hasn’t fished in years.

Some get closer to truth and claim a Christian is a believer in Jesus. This is partially true. Christians are believers (we’ll discuss this later), but there is more to being a Christian that simply stating mental acceptance. I believe that Gandhi was a good man and a leader of his people, but I am not a follower of Gandhi. One can believe that Jesus was real and even that he was Christ, but if he/she does not allow Christ’s teaching to change his/her life are they really a Christian?

What I want us to discover is this: Who does the Bible say is a Christian?

Acts 11:26, “At Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” - A Christian is first a Disciple. By definition a disciple is: 1) A learner, 2) A follower, and 3) An Adherent. Specifically a Christian is a disciple of Christ (cf. 1 Jn 2:3-6). A Christian is to follow Christ’s teaching, learn from His doctrine, and adhere to what he learns from Christ. A Christian follows in Christ’s footsteps, learns from His way of life, and adheres to the example He left for us.

In Acts 26:27-29 Paul tells Agrippa that he knows the king believes, the king responds telling Paul in so many words, that he is close to making a Christian out of the king. Agrippa understood our next observation: A Christian is a Believer.

This belief is not simply acceptance but it is saving faith. A faith that is like the faith of those in Hebrews 11 that acts with confidence. Of each of these characters one might easily assign to them the statement assigned to Abraham in Jas 2:23, that “he believed God and it was imputed (accounted, credited) to him for righteousness.” James point and the Hebrew writer’s point are the same. Faith that does not obey with action is not faith. Belief that is only a verbal statement is not belief. to be a real faith, belief must be reverent, obedient, and trusting.

A Christian is one who obeys the Gospel. Rom 1:16 says the Gospel is God’s power to save. 1 Cor 15:1-4 teaches that the Gospel is the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul tells the Thessalonians in 2 Thess 1:7-9 that the Lord will take vengeance on those who do not obey the Gospel. When one obeys the doctrine of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus he is set free from the slavery of sin (Rom 6:17-18) and becomes a servant of righteousness. One obeys the death burial and resurrection when they follow Christ in a death, burial, and resurrection like his (see Rom 6:3-6). For reference sake take a look at theses conversions to Christ in the book of Acts (Acts 2:41; 8:12; 8:36; 10:47-48; 16:14-15; 33).

When one obeys the Gospel becoming a Child of God (Gal 3:26-27), God then adds that person to the number of His own people -Acts 2:47. A Christian is the a member of the household of God (1 Tim 3:15), he is a citizen not of this earth but of heaven (Phlp 3:20). She becomes a living stone in a living temple (1 Pet 2:4-5) and is set apart for God’s noble use (2 Tim 2:20-21).

Peter in 1 Pet 4:14-16 describes the Christian as a patient sufferer. Paul says that all who follow Christ will suffer (2 Tim 3:12). How we suffer and what we learn from suffering is what James discusses early in the book of James.

According to our quick look at the Bible; A Christian is: A Disciple and Believer who Obeyed from the heart the Gospel that set him free from sin, adding him to Christ’s Church, and enduring through Suffering awaiting the reward of the faithful.

Now for the ultimate question; Will you be one? Read Acts 22:16.

- Scott

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Evaluating My Discipleship

Someone told you that necessity is the mother of invention. That may well be true. However, today, I want to suggest that, Evaluation is the Father of Improvement.

Think for a moment about the automobile industry. Constant evaluation of market, performance, safety, fuel efficiency gives us improved transportation. Similarly, great marriages have couples who evaluate themselves. If evaluation is good in: Industry, family, job, relationships, education, health, then evaluation is also important in our DISCIPLESHIP!2014-07-10 09-00-52.216

Paul says the same in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

Self-evaluation is investigating where you have been, where you currently are, and what direction you are headed. Honestly evaluate yourself and make any necessary changes. Then ask someone to evaluate you and be ready for honesty.

Before we look at How Jesus evaluated His disciples, take a look at what Proverbs says about evaluation.

  • Proverbs 15:22-23, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” I label this Timing.
  • Proverbs 18:17, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” I label this Objectivity.
  • Proverbs 20:18, “Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.” I label this Advice (counsel / guidance).
  • Proverbs 27:17-19, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who guards his master will be honored. As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” I label this Personal Interest.

Evaluation is not flattery or compliments, not always pleasant. Evaluation is timely and objective appraisal given for guidance by someone who has a personal interest in your physical and spiritual well-being. There is a place for this in our lives. It takes someone we trust to point out to us who we really are. As disciples we can build relationships that allow us to do that for each other.

Think about Jesus and His Disciples:

  • Jesus Shared Insights that Challenged Their Thinking. In Mark 6:7-13, 30-32 He gives Situational Insight. In Mark 9:38-41 He offers Relational Insight. And in John 1:41-42 He supplies Personal Insight.
  • Jesus Showed His Disciples Their Blind Spots. In Luke 10:17-20. The disciples thought they had it easy over Satan. Jesus tells them not to let power go to their head. Satan is still cunning – don’t get puffed up.
  • Jesus even gave Rebuke when needed. Mark 8:31-33. He calls the stone (Peter) Satan. Sometimes we all need rebuke.

Here is the point. Jesus timely and objectively guided those He had a personal interest in.


  • Choose timing well.
  • Maintain objectivity.
  • Guide and advise do not always criticize.
  • Speak the truth out of love and personal interest as you seek what is best for the other.

It is time for a check-up. How are your doing as a disciple?

- Scott

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Disciples Reproducing Disciples

Being a disciple is not the end goal of discipleship.  Discipleship has a goal of its own: making more disciples. The Good News is not ours to keep or hoard. We are not simply containers of the Gospel, but a conduit through which God’s grace passes on to others. Consider 2 Timothy 2:2, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

In essence we have a ministry of spiritual reproduction.

In the first chapter of Genesis as God creates plants, fish, birds, and animals He creates them to reproduce after their own kind (Gen 1:11-12, 22). Then after creating man and woman, God gives them His first command, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the 100_1488earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28).

God’s first command to man is: Not to learn; Not about work; Not even about worship. God’s first command to creation is to reproduce.  As a disciples we are learners. As a disciple I am to work for my Master. As disciples we worship God in Christ. And as disciples we are to reproduce disciples. God wants a full SPIRITUAL NURSERY! Jesus last command to His disciples was to make disciples (Matt 28:19).

Take a moment to survey the first few chapters of Acts and you find disciples busy making disciples.

  • Acts 2:41 – 3,000 obey the gospel.
  • Acts 4:4 – the number of the disciples was 5,000.
  • Acts 5:14 – The number grew to the point we read not thousands, but multitudes.

Let’s take a step back for a moment and talk about biology and physical reproduction.  Not all animals can reproduce.  There are three hindrances to reproduction that have relevance to our discussion about disciples.  1) Immature plants and animals cannot reproduce. By immature I am referring to chronology. A young plant, a young animal, a small child is not physically able to reproduce. 2) No partner in reproduction.  It takes male and female to reproduce in the plant and animal world. A man cannot have a child on his own. 3) Disease hinders reproduction. There are diseases that damage reproductive organs.  There are emotional scars that can hinder reproduction as well.

These same hindrances affect Spiritual Reproduction.

  1. Immaturity - For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14).
  2. Not partnered with ChristJesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
  3. Poor Spiritual healthThe sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. (Mark 4:14-19).

An unproductive spiritual life is an unfulfilled spiritual life. There is great joy in passing the Good News to others and seeing it bear fruit in their lives.

- Scott

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Looking for a Church to Call Home?

(For readers that have followed for a few years, this is a re-post form 2012)

If you are looking for a church to call home, I have a list of things to look for in a home congregation.  This is a short list of  list of five things.  These all come from Acts 2:42-27.

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

In this account of the birth of the Kingdom of Christ we see a vibrant and growing church.  In this narrative we see a church that attracts members and one that  any Christian or seeker would want to “join.”  There are, as mentioned, five characteristics that we should look for in a   congregation we are considering as our home.  These are five areas each congregation should evaluate in their own “church” environment.  These are five traits each individual Christian should seek to improve in their own lives as they are active in a local congregation.  What should we look for in a church?

  1. Is this congregation a church that Worships?  (Acts 2:42).  We should devote our worship to the Biblical teaching, to Fellowship with God and each other (including the Lord’s Supper and giving), to breaking of bread (specifically remembering the
    The building where I Obeyed the Gospel

    The building where I Obeyed the Gospel

    sacrifice Christ made for us – cf. Acts 20:7), and to prayer.

  2. Is this congregation a Respectful Church? (Acts 2:43).  This is not a question about whether the community respects the congregation, that will come later.  This is whether or not the congregation respects God and His word.  Are they in “awe” of God?  This sense of awe will express itself in worship.
  3. Is this congregation an Unselfish Church? (Acts 2:44-45).  Are they active in helping each other with needs, visiting the sick, caring for the weak?  Are they active in helping the needing in the community as a whole (Gal 6:10a)?
  4. Is this congregation a Joyful Church? (Acts 2:46-47a).  Are they genuinely glad to be together? Is the atmosphere one of dread or of rejoicing?  Do they seem truly appreciative of the grace of God in their lives?
  5. Is this congregation a Good News Church? (Acts 2:47).  Do they actively share the Good News we normally call the Gospel of Christ?  Are they active in mission efforts?  Are the members telling others about the Grace of God available in Jesus the Christ?

If I can help you find such a church, let me know.

- Scott

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A Friendly Church

Lawrence and Olivia would not consider themselves great neighbors, but they felt they were friendly.  One morning they discussed how they could improve and concluded that they should make a

better effort at being friendly.  Later that month Olivia noticed a moving van at the house across the street.  Having baked a couple of loaves of banana bread that morning, she and Lawrence decided to greet the new couple moving in.  “Good morning,” Lawrence said to the exhausted couple who were obviously resting from moving heavy items.  “I am Larry, and this is my wife Olivia. We wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood.”  Olivia offered a warm smile and the loaf of bread.

Embarrassed by the attention, but glad to be treated warmly the lady answered, “I am Sue and this is Andy, but we are not moving in.  Andy has a job offer closer to our parents and we are moving after living here for seven years.”

I wonder how many times that scenario plays out, not just in neighborhoods, but also in churches.  Do we really know the people we assemble with?  Do we know who is a guest and who is a member?  Do we know their names?

Here are some suggestions on being a friend, especially in a church setting:

  1. Look for unfamiliar people while you are greeting friends before and after assemblies.
  2. Find an opportunity to greet those you do not recognize. Introduce yourself.
  3. Find common ground by asking questions and listening to their answers.  Use those commonalities as the center of conversation.
  4. When you ask their name, listen and repeat it so that you know you heard correctly, this also helps you remember them.
  5. Introduce them to others who share their likes and lifestyle.
  6. Be earnest in your friendliness.
  7. Be a friend!
Remember that people are not looking for friendly churches, they are looking for friends.
- Scott

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Why are they leaving? What can we do?

Yesterday we looked at four reasons that people are leaving churches. Now the question remains; What can churches do?

First churches must return to the basics. When the church at Ephesus became mis-focused after aDistractions few years, Jesus encourages them through the Apostle to “return to your first love.” This concept needs proclaiming from the roof tops of churches around our great nation and the world as a whole. We need to be like Paul who said, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). To the Philippians he declares that above all he desires to know Christ and the power of his resurrection (Phil 3:10). We need to return to proclaiming the message of Good News – the Gospel of Christ that is God’s power to save men (Rom 1:16, 5:1). Once we reach people with this wonderful, awe inspiring, love compelling, disciple making message of hope, then we can move on to loftier and meatier matters. Churches cannot abandon the simple Gospel message for any watered down more “palatable” message. Any thing less would be (is) disastrous.

Next we need to study up on and instruct congregations in the Bible; not modern self-help psychology; not sermonettes on how to avoid financial ruin, but messages that create a firm foundation for faith and hope. We must hear again and follow the teachings of and the teachings concerning Jesus as Christ and not build on the sand (Matt 7:24-27). This teaching begins with a confirmation of the Bible as God’s authentic inspired word and therefore reliable as a guide toward obedience. We need to re-establish faith in the inerrant nature of Scripture. I dare suggest that many in the pew do not know the history of the providential preservation of God’s word from it’s inspiration to the version you hold as you study. We need to demonstrate the relevance of the messages within the Sacred Text to our lives in the 21st Century. Details of life may change, but our nature remains the same. Specifics within the context of a narrative may not always be relevant, but the underlying lessons are still for our learning and instruction (Rom 15:4). We need to return to the pattern of living by the precepts of God in Christ.

We must also remember that Jesus told His immediate followers, and by extension all that belong to Him, that they and we are “in the world but not of the world” (John 17:14-16). We are to lead the world by our example and not follow the example of the world. Paul put it this way in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . .” When we will live a daily Christian life, the world will take notice and we will be the unique people we God calls us to be (1 Pet 2:9).

Finally, we need to refocus our worship. Too many churches and individual Christians look for a worship experience that moves them as individuals or small groups. Jesus told the woman of Samaria that God is Spirit and those that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). God is the focus of our worship. When I worship God, I am the last concern, you are next in line, and God is the central figure and the only member of the audience as we each individually participate in cooperate worship. Your edification and admonition are secondary byproducts of my worship and my encouragement is secondary to your worship. The focus is God and His pleasure. We must learn again to worship the Creator and not the created. I find that when you and I focus on God and Christ that I do gain. Notice the Hebrew writer’s emphasis in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” We accomplish this when we gather together to “offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Heb 13:15).

What will the results of a shift toward a restoration of Biblical preaching, Christian living, and godly worship? Some will still leave, they left Jesus in John 6, and He asked the Twelve, if they would leave as well. They stayed. Some today will stay the course. No matter who leaves or stays, if we will do the above those who stay will be stronger for it.

- Scott

One reader on Facebook mentioned the importance of an atmosphere of love. Another reader wrote about cross-generational relationships. Those are posts for another day.

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What Destroys Churches: What Do We Teach?

Friday, we began this series on What Destroys a Church.  We looked at Persecution and how we can stand against it. You can read that post HERE.


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Another favorite tool of Satan that he uses to destroy churches is False Teaching. If he can convince us to follow his cunningly devised lies he can make a church follow his will instead of God’s will. If he can get us serving self instead of God he can destroy a church. This was the problem in Pergamos, “‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans,” Rev 2:13-15.

God gave warning after warning:

  • I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them,” (Acts 20:29-30).
  • But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed,” (2 Peter 2:1-2).

Yet Pergamos floundered. Whereas Ephesus overcame, “’I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary,” (Revelation 2:2-3).

We must ever guard against error while we continue in sound doctrine.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths,” (2 Timothy 4:1-4.)

Beware of preaching that sells you on prosperity and fits more on a show like Oprah than it does challenging you to live in holiness and to seek God first.

Jesus reminds us that there is a standard to which we are being held. “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak,” (John 12:48-49).

For the church to stay living and vibrant, we must not give into the culture of the world nor the influence of Satan, but must remain true to God’s word and His plan.


Our next two posts will look at what I think are even more dangerous threats against the Church today.

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Following Jesus: Are we Worthy?



We come to the final post on Following Jesus. And this time we switch gears just a bit. We know that Jesus, as God’s Son, as the Messiah (Christ), is worth following. But are we worthy of following Him?

Jesus explains that we are by discussing our value to Him and to ourselves. He asks, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own psyche? Or what will a man give in exchange for his psyche?” “Psyche?” you ask. “Scott,” you say with concern, “my version says ‘life,’ or ‘soul.’ And Luke 9:25 says ‘What will a man give in exchange for himself.’  Nowhere does it say ‘psyche.'”

Well, actually, it does say psyche.  The Greek word “psuche” (translated life / soul) is the word we get psyche from. Jesus is rhetorically asking what is worth giving up your entire being and person – your psyche – for? The answer is obvious. Why would I exchange who I am for the passing pleasures of this world? Nothing is more valuable to me than, well, me.

And, truth be told, nothing is of greater value to God. After He made us in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). Add to that the observation made by Solomon that we (our psyche) will continue after our body dies and decays (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

We can grasp the eternal value of our soul when we understand that God gave His ALL for us. “. . .knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1Peter 1:18-19).

That being the case, why do we often sell ourselves short? Why do we sell out to popularity? Why sould we sell ourselves for wealth that we cannot take to the grave? Why do we spend som much time, effort andmoney on our material possessions which are all the rave today and passe tomorrow?

You are worth so much more than the things of this life!

- Scott

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