Cheating

GENTLEMEN: Enclosed you will find a check for $150. I cheated on my income tax return last year and have not been able to sleep ever since. If I still have trouble sleeping, I’ll send you the rest. Sincerely, ______________ This note was actually received by the Internal Revenue Service some time ago. We chuckle because the sender was willing to be honest up to a point . . .

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Offerings, Part Two

Let’s talk about the offering, the time during the weekly worship service when the plate is passed and most people daydream or fidget around, feeling uncomfortable. If that describes you, you’re missing a golden moment! As I mentioned yesterday, you can turn this time from ho-hum to hallelujah. If I may take the phrase in Ephesians 5:16, making the most of your time, to include the silent moments during the offering, let me offer some practical suggestions.

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It’s about Time, Part One

I’m a sucker for time-management books. Some people can’t say no to a salesman at the door. Others have the hardest time passing up a free puppy . . . or driving by a garage sale without stopping. Still others find it almost impossible to withstand the urge to gamble. Not me. My weakness is books on the investment of my time. Books that tell me how to replace being busy with being effective.

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For Strength in the Battle Against Evil

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10–11) Almighty God, You are our all-powerful and invincible Lord. None can overcome You. None can stand against You. How we need You, especially when the battle against evil rages!

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For Unity among God’s People

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4–6) Our Father, what a great privilege we have been provided by Your amazing grace, that You are making us one together with such a wide and diverse group of people!

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For Righteous Living

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

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Principles

I think we need to sign a mental declaration of independence. Let’s put our names on the line, pledging ourselves with firm resolve, much like those brave men did on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia when they signed the Declaration of Independence. Did you know that of the fifty-six courageous men who signed that original document in Philadelphia, many did not survive the war that followed?

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For Becoming Better Parents

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4) Thank You, Father, for being the perfect Parent. Thank You for those times that You’ve taken us to task, though the reproof sometimes seemed more than we could bear. Encourage us with the truth that whoever the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.

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For Strong Marriages

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her . . . . So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself . . . and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33) Lord, today we are living in a culture that has forgotten Your pattern for marriage.

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Striking a Chord of Harmony

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1–3)

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