For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out

The Game of Life

Steve Higginbotham asks, “Have you ever played Milton Bradley’s, ‘The Game of LIFE?’ Probably you have at some point. This game has been around a long time — since 1860! The object of this game is to cause its players to make several important ‘life decisions’ and teach them several important ‘life lessons,’ while having fun all at the same time. Some of those decisions and lessons were:

Whether to go straight to work, or go to college first.
Paydays are typically better for those who go to college.
Whether to buy or not to buy health/life insurance.
Having children can bring benefits as well as liabilities.
Life has many unexpected setbacks, as well as serendipitous blessings.
And ultimately, the decisions you make in life will determine whether you will wind up in a “Millionaire’s Mansion” or the “Poor House.”

Then Higginbotham points out an important lesson that one can learn from the game even though it’s not found in the game’s instructions: “But one lesson this game didn’t teach us; in fact, the most important lesson of all is this…

When the game is over, everything goes back in the box!

No matter how good you were at this game; no matter how much money you were able to accumulate; no matter whom you were able to beat; at the end of the game, you had to put everything you had accumulated back in the box.” *

Higginbotham’s observations illustrate the truthfulness of this passage: “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” – 1 Timothy 6:7

“No matter what you’re able to accomplish in life; no matter how much money you are able to earn in your lifetime; no matter how many people you competed against and over which you were victorious; when your life is over, it all goes ‘back in the box.’ You take none of it with you. Then you’ll stand before your Maker.” – Steve Higginbotham

If we’ve spent all of our time, energy, and focus on things that “go back into the box,” we will perish and miss out on the greatest, ETERNAL blessings that God wants to give to us. Please read Matthew 6:19-21.

Our sins condemn us (Romans 6:23), but God loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that we might receive forgiveness and the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).

God will save those who place their faith and trust in Christ (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse those who continue to place their focus on eternal things by following Jesus and obeying His Word (1 John 1:7).

In the end, life isn’t a game! But “The Game of Life” can remind us to think “outside the box” about those things which ARE eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Won’t YOU accept God’s offer of forgiveness and eternal life by trusting and obeying Jesus?

David A. Sargent

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What kind of example are you living?

Pillar Christians

1) About 1600 years ago there were some Bible believing people who were known as “pillars.”
2) History tells us there were people who were actually known as “pillar saints.”


1) Jas. 1:2 – READ
2) Are we known as a “joyful” Christian?
a) Some see Christianity as a burden.
b) Christianity should be one of the best parts of our lives. If it is not, something is wrong.
3) In verse 3 James spoke about the faith of a Christian being “proven.”
a) Imagine Simon spending more than 35 years of life his living on top of a column.
b) If he was able to do this, what about the tests we are called on to face?
c) Jas. 1:4 – perfect, entire, lacking in nothing.
4) Part of the spiritual completeness involves prayer (verse 6). – READ
5) Verse 7 – READ
6) Verse 18 – READ
7) God says there is the “word of truth.”
8) We need to bear the truth in the right way – verses 19-20 – READ
9) Our knowing and having the truth means we also live by what it says – verses 22-23 – READ
10) A result of the truth: Jas. 1:27 – READ Opposite of the truth – verse 26 – READ
11) Simon was known for WHERE he lived; we should be known for HOW we live (Jas. 1).


1) The end of Jas. 2:1 refers to “respect of persons” (discrimination).
2) One of the things Christians should be known for is his or her refusal to discriminate.
3) The Christian should be able to truthfully say: I do not discriminate.
4) Jas. 2:9 – READ
5) The unsaved are commonly involved in discrimination plus adultery and even murder (verse 11).
6) How good it is to be known as someone who wants to treat everyone equally.
7) How good it is to live a life which is like light instead of darkness.
8) How good it is to be known for a “faith that works” instead of a “dead faith” (Jas. 2:17-26).


a) We should be known as those who stumble (Jas. 3:2) but seek to avoid these times.
b) We are also people who try to control our speech (3:5-9).
2) Jas. 3:13 – READ
3) We can be known as someone who practices and reflects the “wisdom from above” (Jas. 3:15, 17).

JAS. 4-5 (4:2-3).
a) Known for resting the devil (verse 7) and getting close to God (verse 8).
b) We can be known as people who truly want to seek God and shun evil.
c) We can be known as those who seek humility (verse 10) and live in view that death is coming (verse 14).
d) Known for being fair/unfair (Jas. 5:1-5), plus known for pleasure versus seeking God.
e) Known for willingness to murmur suffer or not (5:9-10).
f) Known for our willingness to endure or not (5:11).

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Self control in the Bible

Thorough Yelling

“You can’t yell at me like that!” Linus said to Lucy. “Oh?” questioned Lucy.
“”I’ll yell at you when I feel like it, where I feel like it, how I feel like it, why I feel like it and as often as I feel like it!” Lucy retorted and walks away.
“Her yelling is very thorough,” Linus contemplates.

Raising our voices is an easy response. It’s like hitting. If you hit me, it’s quick and easy to just hit back. That’s child’s play (or worse). Yelling is adult play (actually, worse). If you upset me, I’ll yell at you. What does yelling really convey? I don’t have enough self-control to reason with you. I don’t think you have enough self-control to reason with me. I want to intimidate you so that you will cower and submit.

Do you think Jesus ever yelled? He “cried out with a loud voice” when He was hanging on the cross (Matt. 27:46, 50). Besides that context, the only reference I have found to Jesus raising His voice is when He cried out to Lazarus “come forth!” (John 11:43). Of course, Lazarus was dead! Seriously, that occasion was more to showcase the miracle He was performing. It certainly was not due to anger or malice.

Rather, in Matthew 12:19, Matthew (quoting Isaiah 42:1-3) says of Jesus: “He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.”

You and I should take the example of Jesus, and other New Testament teaching, to heart and work on self-control relative to the volume at which we speak. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ Jesus also has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:31-32).

–Paul Holland

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Sermons about the wise-men

The “Wise Men” Followed the “Star” to the “True North”

Matthew 2:1-12
Let’s take a look at this account in which we see Gentiles coming to worship Jesus (cf. 8:5-13; 15:21-28). Although Matthew is the most “Old Testament” of the Gospel accounts – about 55 quotations from the OT in Matthew as opposed to 65 in the other three combined as well as twice as many allusions than the other three – he also clearly presents Jesus as the Savior of all men. The first people we actually see coming to Jesus are Gentiles.

The “magos” were members of a Persian tribe Magoi (also associated with Babylon where there was a large Jewish community at that time). They studied astronomy and astrology.

They were rich. They are bringing their free-will offerings, giving generously, and gladly with a willing heart.

They also came from a long journey. We, also, may seek Christ in faith through perseverance and self-denial.

Their question related to the star as it guided them to the “King of the Jews.” Explanations for the “star” are pointless. My conviction is that God prepared this star just as surely as He prepared the fish/whale to swallow Jonah.

The object of their coming was to worship Him. Some have suggested that this “worship” is not an attribution of deity to Jesus but rather the type of homage one gives to a ruler. Yet, we must remember that people in those days believed that kings were the sons of the gods. So, it would be more natural to see these wise men as attributing deity to this baby Jesus, born King of the Jews.

The chief priests and scribes knew the Scriptures. They knew where Christ would be born, based on Micah’s prophecy in 5:2. The people knew the Messiah would come from Bethlehem – John 7:41-42. Notice that Herod and the chief priests and scribes associated this ruler/Shepherd with the King of the Jews and with the Messiah.

The wise men believed the Scriptures. They were Gentiles but they did not doubt the Scriptures. In the humble, teachable spirit of the true disciple, who desires only to learn the truth of God, these men go to find baby Jesus.

Notice how happy they were in verse 10. The reward of their faith was to see God Incarnate. God will not leave us to grope our way in the darkness, when we are seeking Him in faith. “Earnest search is the condition of the heavenly guidance; the heavenly guidance is the reward of earnest search.”

We should offer our most valuable possessions to the Lord as these wise men did. Wise men still seek Jesus and follow Him – the “true north” – to our ultimate destination (heaven).

–Paul Holland

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Steve Jobs’ last words

Three Sayings from the Cross
The words of a man on his death bed are usually fairly important. According to reports, Steve Jobs’ last words were: “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.” I don’t know why. Maybe it is because he saw another rich man welcoming him to his final destination.
Let’s direct our attention to the statements in John. We can learn many things about the nature of Jesus and what was on His mind in His last hours on earth.
FAMILY – 19:25-27:

Standing at the foot of the cross is Mary, Jesus’ mother. Since Joseph has not been mentioned in the Gospel accounts since Jesus’ early childhood, we presume that he has passed away.
But, Jesus has her care in His heart. He may be carrying the load of the world on His shoulders, but in His heart is His mother. Maybe John even stayed around, thinking about Mary, his friends’ mom. Jesus had one earthly concern before He left this world and He placed her into the hands of John.
How trustworthy are we with what God has put into our hands? We may have children to care for. We may have parents to provide for. Are we dependable? Could Jesus have that kind of trust in us?
HUMANITY – 19:28-29:

They had tried to give Jesus wine mixed with myrrh right before He was hung on the cross (Mark 15:23) but He refused that. Myrrh was a narcotic. It would have relieved His pain, dulled His senses, and perhaps put Him to sleep. But Jesus refused. When He died for you and me, Jesus endured the full extent of the pain with full consciousness.
In order to understand the depth of this “word,” let’s take a look at Psalm 22. Jesus has already quoted Psalm 22 (Matt. 27:46). Now, let’s read Psalm 22:6-8. Then, let’s read 22:14-15.
“I thirst” is the cry of mankind! It’s the cry of a human soul that thirsts for God! It is more than just the cry of a man who has hung on the cross for six hours! It is the cry of mankind who has thirsted for spiritual water since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden.
“FINISHED” – 19:30:

Everything that was set in motion, literally from the dawn of creation when God said, “Let us make man in our image” – has now reached its consummation. God’s plan to redeem man has come to its final hours.
All of the rituals in the Old Testament, the temple, the sacrifices, the promises, the covenants – everything has pointed to this moment. Everything has led mankind to this hour.
The promise of the “seed” (Gen. 3:15) is now realized. Now, it is fulfilled. Now, it is finished. There will be no more animal sacrifices. There will be no more anointing a new high priest. There will be no more Days of Atonement. It is finished. It is done. It is accomplished.
Remember these words from the cross: Family. Humanity. Finished.

–Paul Holland

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The prophet Jeremiah

“Are We Prepared to Restore the Old Paths?”

Jeremiah 6:16

Jeremiah preached adherence to the Mosaic covenant. The book presents Jeremiah as one who knew, appreciated and proclaimed the law. But he was not appreciated much by his own people, nor by his own family (11:21; 12:6). Jeremiah’s preaching lasted about 40 years and embraced the last four kings of Judah after King Josiah.

Jeremiah also had to stand against the coalition of priests and prophets who charged him with blasphemy for predicting the destruction of the temple (26:8-11). Jeremiah had at least two brushes with death – one under Pashur the priest who beat him (ch. 20) and when the princes of Judah left him to die in a cistern filled with mire (ch. 38).

“Only acknowledge your iniquity,” God told Israel through Jeremiah, “that you have transgressed against the Lord your God … and you have not obeyed My voice” (3:13). About 15 times, God commands or refers to Judah as “returning” to Him.

Their problem was “stubbornness of an evil heart” (3:17) – a “stubborn and rebellious heart” (5:23). So that in 4:4, God told Jerusalem to “circumcise themselves to the Lord and remove the foreskins of their heart.”

It all has to do with one’s attitude toward the Word of God – “Behold, the word of the Lord has become a reproach to them; they have no delight in it” (6:10). The prophet and the priest of their day “healed the brokenness of [God’s] people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, Peace,’ But there was no peace. Were they ashamed,” Jeremiah asked, “Because of the abomination they have done?” But Jeremiah answers his own question, “They were not even ashamed at all; They did not even know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall…” (6:14-15).

In that context, God tells the remnant of Jerusalem: “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls” (6:16).

Yes, every generation has had its faithful leaders who called God’s people back to God’s way. “Return to me,” thus says the Lord.

Every generation has its own trials and challenges. Higher criticism and evolution – both challenges are still with us. Skepticism is still a challenge. Pentecostalism and ecumenicism have come along and even now, post-modernism, have all reared their ugly heads and scared many once-faithful men and women to compromise and veer off the ancient path.

The danger of leaving God’s way is always present among us because our adversary the Devil continues prowling like a roaring lion. Every family has to make its own choices on a weekly or daily or monthly basis if it will serve God first. Every individual as he or she matures has to answer the question for himself or herself: “Ultimately, whom am I going to serve?”

Will we keep the dream to restore, to continue the process of restoring the New Testament Christianity, alive? “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths.”

–Paul Holland

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Sermon outline on King Saul

Which Way is North? (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
All of us have probably been lost at one time or another. If you get lost when you are in the woods, you can use a compass to help you find your way. A compass, as you know, operates on the scientific basis that the core of the earth sends out a magnetic signal. We are able to line up an arrow based on that magnetic signal so that our arrow always points north.
Yet, you may not know that there is a “magnetic” north and a “true” north. “Magnetic” north is what we normally think about as “north.” It is the direction a needle points as it lines up with the magnetic field from the core of the earth. But, that magnetic field changes depending on your position of the earth and it changes over time. So we also have “true” north, which is the direction along a north-south direction [meridian] that moves toward the geographic north.
Let us examine someone who offered worship to God, but since it wasn’t in accordance with God’s will – the “true” north – it was rejected. That man is King Saul (1 Samuel 15).
The Command:

God’s command to Saul was to “destroy all:” Man, woman, infant, nursing child; ox, sheep, camel, donkey (verses 1-2).
Partial obedience:

Saul separates the Kenites from the Amalekites – 15:6, 7. These were members of Moses’ father-in-law and had helped Israel during their wilderness travels. But he also spared alive the king and the “best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings, lambs, and all that was good.” The middle of verse 9 emphasizes that what Saul had done was still not obedience – he was “not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.” So even in Saul’s “obedience,” he still disobeyed as he was the one who decided what was “despised” and what was worth saving.

Notice Saul’s presumption – 15:13. He assumes he was obeying the Lord when he did not have authority to do what he had done. In Saul’s mind, the end (offering sacrifices to God) justified the means (saving some of the animals in disobedience) – vss 15 & 21.

Sincerity is necessary: Joshua 24:14 – “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth…” Paul also tells Christians in 1 Corinthians 5:8 – [perhaps speaking of the Lord’s Supper] – “Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

But sincerity itself is not sufficient… (it’s not “true” north). Samuel reminds Saul of the past – 15:17 and how God had sent Saul on a mission – 15:18. But, Saul disobeyed – 15:19. Saul hasn’t learned yet that obedience is: Doing what God says do, the way God says do it, for the reason God says do it.

Take a close look at 15:22-23 and observe that obedience is better than worship.
So, “true north” is obeying Christ as closely as we can. That is faith. That is trust. That is humility. That is godliness.

–Paul Holland

Veritas non verba

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Evangelism in the book of Acts

To whom should the gospel go?


1) Acts 1:4 – apostles were to “stay” in Jerusalem.
2) After Acts 1:4, we read about the apostles “going” (leaving) for some places. Acts 1:8 – READ
a) After receiving the promise made in Acts 1:4, these men were “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:1-4).
b) Acts 2:13 tells us some said the apostles were intoxicated.
3) Mocking did not stop these men; beginning with verse 16 Peter and others presented a Bible study.
4) Acts 3:11-12 – READ
a) Did these men try to withdraw from the limelight or did they use it to talk about God?
b) Acts 3:14 – READ
5) Peter and John were arrested and put in jail (Acts 4:3).
6) Acts 4:8 – another discussion about the Word of God and salvation.
7) Acts 4:12 – READ Acts 4:18-20 – READ
8) Verse 31 in Acts 4 says the first Christians spoke God’s word with “boldness.”
9) The commitment to sharing God’s word in an evil world continues in Acts 5.
10) Acts 5:20 – READ
11) After being abused, did these men go into hiding (Acts 5:40)?
12) Acts 6:7 – God’s word “increased” (continued to spread).
13) By the time described in Acts 7, the opposition to the gospel was so great it led to a man’s death.
14) Acts 8:4 – READ
15) God’s people had a message that could not keep inside them; this message was like a fire.
16) From Jerusalem to Samaria (Acts 8:5).
17) Acts 8:26 – gospel taken to a man on a desert road.
18) The man who was likely the greatest persecutor of the faith (Saul—Acts 9) was told about the gospel. 9:28-29
19) Acts 10 – gospel made it into the lives of military people. Gentiles as well (Acts 11:1-3)
20) Acts 12 describes King Herod Agrippa – high officials were informed about the gospel. Acts 12:4.
a) A sorcerer (Acts 13) was exposed to the truth of God’s word.
b) Acts 13:15 – the gospel was taught in a Jewish synagogue.
21) Acts 14:8-9 – handicapped man exposed to the truth.
22) Acts 15:36 – Christians went back to some places they had already gone!
23) Acts 16:13-15 – gospel to business owners.
24) Verses 27-33 – a jail house.
25) Acts 17:16 -idol worshippers.
26) Acts 18 tells us about a man who was an “eloquent speaker” (Acts 18:24).
27) Acts 19:1-5 – gospel was taught to those who were religious, but not religiously right.
28) Gospel taken to the “young” (Acts 20:9) as well as the “unmarried” (Acts 21:8-9).
29) Acts 22:21 truth was taken to “far” (distant) places.
30) Acts 23 describes how news of the gospel was brought before the Jewish priest (“pope” today).
31) Acts 24-26 describes how the gospel even made its way into the legal system.
32) Those on board a ship (Acts 27) got some information about the God of the Bible.
33) Summary – Acts – 28:30-31 – READ
34) How and what are we doing?

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Why we need the Bible

A Dry & Thirsty Land

We recently brought before our attention the words of Amos in 8:11-14 in which he bewails a famine in his land. Not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water but of hearing the word of the Lord. Amos’s description of 8th century Israel is exactly the same as 21st century America. Man has not changed.

If knowledge of God is withheld, there is no solution to all the mysteries of the universe and life. If the Law of God is concealed, there is no sufficient guide through human life. If the Gospel of Christ is withheld there is no peace for the conscience, no assurance of immortality. If divine revelation is denied, there is no power sufficient to guide and to govern human society.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So we need the Word of God. It furnishes us unto every good work. Paul says in verse 15 that the Scriptures make us wise unto salvation. They tell us about Christ, about the salvation that he offers – the facts, threats, commands, and promises.

The word is given to us by the inspiration of God. God, through the Holy Spirit, instructs men (Nehemiah 9:20). “However, You bore with them for many years, and admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets” (Neh. 9:30). When we read the Scriptures, we are reading what the Holy Spirit has to say to us. That is why John, inspired by that Holy Spirit, told the seven churches of Asia at the end of each letter, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” In 1 Corinthians 2:13, Paul declares that the things he taught were not in words of man’s wisdom, but in words which “the Holy Spirit teaches.”

So, the Bible – as it is – is adapted to man – as he is. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Psa. 119:130). Paul says that when we read, we can understand his knowledge – we can understand what we read (Ephesians 3:3-5). The word “is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). So the Bible is adapted to man’s intellect. The Bible challenges us mentally.

But the Bible is also adapted to man’s volition. Man has a will. God created him with that will and God allows him – even calls on him – to exercise that will. America is not lost because she cannot understand the will of God. America is suffering from spiritual thirst because America does not have the desire to do God’s will. The prodigal son did not arise and return to the father until after he said, “I will arise and go to my father…” (Luke 15:18).

Man also is an emotional creature. The Gospel also appeals to our hearts. God’s love causes us to love him in return (1 John 4:19). Faith works by love (Gal. 5:6). The Gospel appeals to us to love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength (Matt. 22:37).

When we give our hearts to the Lord, with all of our desires, we can say with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (24:15). Believe the Gospel. Yield in humble obedience to it. Trust. Obey. Your life will be enriched and your days will be sweet. Your family and home life will be better. You’ll be safer from the temptations of Satan. Your opportunities for success in this life will be improved and you will have hope for the life that is to come.

–Paul Holland

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Cathy Newman Every Shoe Tells a Story


“Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment …would [betray] what life we have led,” wrote Shakespeare. Some people love shoes. Some people are addicted to shoe-buying. Others are not so impulsive, but do have a plethora of footwear – far more than the average man thinks is necessary!

National Geographic, September 2006, had an article entitled, “Every Shoe Tells a Story.” The author, Cathy Newman, details the history of footwear and the practicality of various types – sagebrush bark fiber was used in the early stages of this country’s history. A stainless steel, polyester & aluminum space boot will be used on the moon.

Spiritually speaking, what does your footwear say about the life you lead? Listen to Paul’s words about our God-provided armor: “as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Notice Paul’s words that our feet are to be clothed, not with the Gospel, but with “readiness.” Our feet are to be shod with “readiness.”

Are you ready? Do you know that you know what you know? Are you ready to defend the existence of God? Do you know the four major arguments for the existence of God? Are you ready to defend the nature of God as it is depicted in the Bible? Can you defend the deity of Christ? Why do you believe that Jesus is the Savior? Do you have any reason stronger than “that’s just what I believe?” Are you ready to defend the doctrine that the Bible is God’s Word, inspired by the Spirit and without error?

With what are your feet shod? Readiness? Silence? Reticence? Complacency? Compromise? The apostle Peter writes: “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

If we want to evangelize our community, we’ve got to put “readiness” on our feet. What story does your footwear tell about you? What are you wearing today? Bible class on Sundays and Wednesdays are designed to help all of us be prepared. Join us this week.

Paul Holland

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