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August 25 2016 By dvirtue Reports from Citizens of Heaven

When we read and hear of the stories of the saints of the church, we are hearing reports from citizens of heaven. Until our time of arrival there, we have opportunity to eavesdrop on these who have gone before. The writer to the Hebrews recognized the special value of their stories by including this great eleventh chapter. We can only imagine the taste of ambrosia and manna, but the stories are the stuff of real life.

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July 29 2016 By dvirtue The Pain and the Horror

The shoulder's location next to the brain amplifies the pain of a shoulder injury. If you've got knee pain, you can choose not to walk. If you've got back pain, you can lie down. But there's absolutely no way to avoid shoulder pain. It simply won't go away. Any sudden, unexpected motion can put you into involuntary paroxysms.

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July 06 2016 By dvirtue Grace and Glory

I have always regarded these distilled teachings of the reformers as undeniably true. It is easy to find scriptures to back them up. However, they also have been obviously incomplete, not providing the full picture of the process of salvation (for example, there is no emphasis on agape love, the role of Church traditions and sacraments, or the role of the Holy Spirit). I have discussed this elsewhere. But in this short article I wish to focus only upon God's glory and grace.

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June 29 2016 By dvirtue I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever: Ps. 23:6

But what is the nature of that eternal life? Jesus said that he came that we "may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). "Now this is eternal life; that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3). Eternal life is life in God's kingdom. It begins now as we enter God's kingdom and is fulfilled in the resurrection. David describes it as dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.

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June 22 2016 By dvirtue Surely goodness and love shall follow me all the days of my life: Ps. 23:6

We may think that we have been overlooked by the goodness and love of God. He is not going to follow us around. He is going to pursue us. Francis Thompson (1859-1907) studied for the priesthood and then for medicine. He never completed his courses because he became an opium addict, and started living on the streets of London. He was rescued by a friend and became a famous poet.

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June 16 2016 By dvirtue You Anoint My Head with Oil; My Cup Overflows: Psalm 23:5

So what does this mean for us? How are we anointed? How does our cup overflow with joy? We are not kings, queens or priests are we? Yes, we are! Jesus Christ is the Anointed One -- that's what 'Christ' means. When we are baptized in Christ, we are christened, i.e. made into little Christs, followers of Christ, part of the body of Christ. Some churches even use anointing by oil (chrism) in Baptism to make that point.

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June 08 2016 By dvirtue You Prepare a Table Before me in the Presence of my Enemies: Psalm 23:5

Who are your enemies and how does the Lord defend you against them? I married John and Nancy many years ago. Nancy gave birth to a beautiful daughter, and then shortly afterwards found that she had breast cancer. She fought the disease valiantly but it was of a pernicious variety. On the night she died, as I was driving over to the house, these words came into my mind, "An enemy has done this." They are the words of Jesus in his parable of the wheat and the weeds.

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June 06 2016 By dvirtue Persecution and Resurrection

"Witness" is a curious word in the Bible. The Greek verb is "martureo" (μaρτυρέ), from which our word "martyr" is derived. It originally meant bearing legal witness in court. In the New Testament it is a declaration of fact -- mostly to report good news. Jesus said, "You shall be my witnesses (μάρτυρες) in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

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May 26 2016 By dvirtue I will Fear No Evil

"At this the fiends fell back, allowing Christian to pass by, though not unscathed, for one evil and malicious spirit crept up behind and whispered blasphemies in the traveler's ear... In this tortured frame of mind, he continued along the way for some time, but his spirits rose a little when he heard a voice quoting, 'Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.'"

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May 18 2016 By dvirtue He Guides Me in Paths of Righteousness for His Name's Sake: Psalm 23:3

First, he directs us to seek the right path, the paths of righteousness, i.e. the way that reflects the character of the Good Shepherd. Pilgrim's Progress is full of different ways people can choose to travel. But there is only one that leads to the Celestial City. Jesus talked about two roads: the broad road that leads to destruction and the narrow road that leads to life. (Matthew 7:13,14) The broad road leads to self-destructive behavior through wrong choices.

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