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Do You Think Honesty Really Matters Much in Today's World?
Big Idea: Honesty in our dealings at work makes God happy.
Purpose: Honesty and dishonesty not only matter to a customer, but they matter to God.
Text: Amos 8:5-6; Proverbs 11:1; Leviticus 1:3

The Honesty and Integrity We Need to Bring to Our Work Each Day
Big Idea: God hates cheating in the marketplace because of what it does to us and what it does to others.
Purpose: To be honest in our dealings with others.
Text: Proverbs 20:10,23

Bribes, Gifts, and Presents: Is It Right?
Big Idea: God wants us to be above-board, and not involved in under-the-table dealings.
Purpose: To realize that what looks like a shrewd way to do business can have bad consequences.
Text: Proverbs 17:8; Proverbs 15:27; Proverbs 17:23

Integrity and Love With Which We Do Business
Big Idea: Truth in selling isn't merely a government regulation.
Purpose: To understand why lying in the workplace is destructive.
Text: Proverbs 20:14,17

If We Had Truth in Living, We Would Not Need Laws about Truth in Lending
Big Idea:If we had truth in living, we would not need laws about truth in lending.
Purpose: To appreciate the damage that lying in the marketplace does.
Text: Proverbs 21:6

Big Idea: When we take moral shortcuts, they may lead us into dead-ends in both business and in life.
Purpose: To see the danger of get-rich-quick schemes.
Text: Proverbs 20:21

Moral Shortcuts May Lead Us into Dead-Ends Both in Business and in Life - I
Big Idea: When we take moral shortcuts, they may lead us into dead ends in both business and in life.
Purpose: Know the danger of get-rich-quick schemes.
Text: Proverbs 20:21

Moral Shortcuts May Lead Us into Dead-Ends Both in Business and in Life - II
Big Idea: When we take moral shortcuts, they may lead us into dead ends in both business and in life.
Purpose: To see the danger of get-rich-quick schemes.
Text: Proverbs 10:22

Note: Each Part of the By The Sweat Of Your Brow Series Builder can be purchased and used independently.

1. Know God's Purpose

True, Christianity is a religion, but people can be religious without being Christians. Christ condemned the religious Pharisees of his day because they hid their real selves behind a facade of religion and external morality.

It may sound odd, but God isn't into religion or external morality. He's into relationships, inspirational living, and reality. That is, he wants us not only to have a right relationship with him, but also with each other and with ourselves. And he wants us to be real—to see and admit what we truly are so he can help us.

Neither is it God's goal to make us good. It's to make us whole, for only to the degree that we are made whole will our actions, lifestyle, and relationships be wholesome!

Religion tends to want to fix us from the outside in. God wants to fix us from the inside out. The first can become an impossible burden. The latter is what brings freedom. Christianity is not a set of rules and regulations. It is experiencing divine love, divine acceptance and divine forgiveness.

It helps to realize that God isn't out to zap us for the wrongs we've done. In fact, no matter what we have ever done or have failed to do, he loves us with an everlasting love and has a wonderful purpose for our lives—for this life as well as the next! As Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."1 And again, "My purpose is to give life in all its fullness."2


2. Man's Problem

On the outside we may look like we are doing very well, but on the inside everyone of us has a major issue. Seneca, the ancient Roman philosopher, put it bluntly when he said, "We have all sinned. Some more. Some less." God's Word, the Bible agrees. It reads, "We have all sinned and fallen short of God's standard."3 Sin, however, is not only doing harmful acts. It is anything that falls short of the standard of perfection that God envisioned for us. This includes nursing grudges and other negative emotions, pride, jealousy, mixed motives, etc. Most of us, too, are guilty of sins of omission; that is, not doing what we know we should and could do.4

Another misconception about God is that he is out to get us or to punish us for our sins. We bring sin's punishment on ourselves because sin has its own natural consequences. If we try to break the universal law of gravity, for instance, we can't. It will break us. Neither can we break God's universal moral law. When we do, it breaks us, and besides its painful effects in this life—suffering, sorrow, sickness and spiritual death—its ultimate and tragic consequence is eternal death or separation from God.5

We are like a burned out or "dead" electric light bulb that cannot respond to its power source. And because we are spiritually dead, we cannot respond to God's love and power either, without his first "fixing" us. Furthermore, because of our spiritual deadness, it is impossible for anyone to save him or herself. Only God can do this. This is why all the "good works" in the world cannot make us alive to God. Only when we see and admit this, is God able to "fix" us!

How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian

Page Two

3. Christ's Answer

Because our sin has separated or disconnected us from God, we have been left with a God-shaped vacuum, or spiritual emptiness, within. As Augustine put it, "You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you." The world's many religions are all evidence of man's endless search to find God and fill this vacuum. However, because God loved us so much, he sent his own sinless Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our predicament.6

Christ did this by dying on the cross in our place to pay the consequence of and ransom price for our sins—death. Thus, Jesus Christ is God's only provision for our sin, and he is the only way back to God and the only door into eternal life.7

God's Word, the Bible, says, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men."8 Had there been any other way to save mankind, Christ wouldn't have had to die for us. Because he was without sin, he was the only one qualified to die for our sins.

4. Your Invitation

If you were found guilty of a serious crime and were condemned to death, and if offered, would you accept a free unconditional pardon?

Because of Christ's dying for us, that's what God offers us, and with it the gift of eternal life. All we need to do is to accept his pardon. Here's how to do this:

First: Confess. God's Word says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins."9

Second: Repent. That is, we need to turn from sinful and selfish ways to follow God and his ways. Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe."10 That is, we need to turn from sinful and selfish ways to follow God and his ways.

Third: Believe. "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved,"11 declares the Word of God.

Fourth: Receive. God also said, "To all who received him [Christ], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."12

Admitting our sinfulness, believing that Jesus died for our sins, inviting him into our lives as Lord and Savior, and accepting God's forgiveness is what makes us real Christians. The following prayer will help you do this:

"Dear God, I confess that I am a sinner and am sorry for all the wrongs that I have done. I believe that your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me. I invite you, Jesus, to come into my heart and life as Lord and Savior. I commit and trust my life to you. Please give me the desire to be what you want me to be and to do what you want me to do. Thank you for dying for my sins, for your free pardon, for your gift of eternal life, and for hearing and answering my prayer. Amen."

YOUR RESPONSE: "YES, I prayed and invited Jesus Christ to come into my life to be my Savior. I want to learn more about the Christian life." To do so, click on the PASSPORT link below, fill in the form and we will send you the web address for your FREE copy of the e-article, How to Grow, to help you in your new Christian life and the web address for the "Living, Loving and Learning: Steps for Spiritual Growth" web articles—also without charge.


Inviting Jesus into your heart and life as your personal Savior is your Passport into Heaven. Whatever, you do, don't leave Earth without it!



5. Here's Great Assurance

If you genuinely prayed the prayer to invite Jesus Christ into your life and truly meant it, you are now a true Christian and have the gift of a new spiritual life as well as eternal life. You are also a child of God and a member of his family.13 God promised this. Choose to accept it. Take it by faith and not feelings. Feelings change but God's Word never does.

God's Word says, "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."14

When you pray to receive Christ into your life, you have a brand new spiritual life and this life needs care and nurturing just as your physical life does. Again, if you prayed to invite Christ into your life, be sure to CLICK HERE or on the PASSPORT link above, fill in and submit the coupon and we will be send you the web address for helpful free articles.

FOOTNOTES: 1. John 3:16; 2. John 10:10; 3. Romans 3:24; 4. James 4:17; 5. Romans 6:23; 6. See Ephesians 2:8-9; 7. See John 14:6; 8. 1Timothy 2:5-6; 9. 1John 1:9; 10. Mark 1:5; 11. Acts 16:31; 12. John 1:12; 13. See 2 Corinthians 5:17 and John 1:12; 14. 1 John 5:11-13.

Daily Encounter

A Week-day Devotional by Dick Innes of ACTS International

1. No Guarantee

To the rich man in Jesus' parable who said to himself, "I have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry," God said, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you" (See Luke 12:16-20, NIV).

This past week a teacher friend of mine attended an extremely sad funeral. One of the younger teachers from his school was on her way home with her two young children. She stopped her car in the driveway at their home to pick up the mail from the mail box. Somehow her car started to run towards the house. She ran to protect her children and got caught between the car and the garage—was pinned to the garage door—and killed. One moment she was alive and vibrant, the next her life was snuffed out.

Life can be like that. One of our ACTS Board members, still in his forties, found out last November he had cancer. He died in January. Every time I drive on the Los Angeles freeways and see a lunatic speeding driver darting in and out of heavy traffic, I tremble—not so much for him but for myself and/or for someone else's loved one that, in a split second, he is just as likely to kill or maim for life.

The reality is that not one of us has any guarantee of tomorrow. Whether our life is taken suddenly or if we should live to a ripe old age, it is imperative that we are ready to go because, as God's Word says, "It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment"1 And again, "Prepare to meet your God."2

According to God's Word, after this life we will all appear before God as either our Savior or our judge. It is crucial that we make that choice today. To be sure you are prepared to meet God as your Savior do read the article, "To Know God and be sure you're a real Christian" in No. 2 below.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that over and over you have warned all mankind in your Word, the Bible, that the human soul never dies in that there is life after physical death either with you in heaven or apart from you in hell (whatever and wherever that may happen to be). Please help me to be certain that when my time is up, I will meet you as my Savior and not my judge. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1.                  Hebrews 9:27 (NKJV).   2. Amos 4:12 (NKJV).


Amos 4-6

As I read through the Amos reading today, always trying to find the

Scripture appropriate to the church in our time, I came across this

passage. It makes me wonder if God has some similar thoughts about us


I hate all your show and pretence,

  the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.

Away with your hymns of praise! They are only noise to my ears.

I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is.

  Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,

  a river of righteous living that will never run dry.

It certainly is a challenge if our 'hymns of praise' are only noise to

the ears of God. Yet I do wonder if this is, in many cases the way it

is. We seem to entertain with our ''songs of praise'' rather than using

our music purely as a way of support to the expressions of our hearts.

Music can be so captivating and alluring yet if we sing songs of praise

which are not reflecting the intentions of our hearts than God will

probably call them 'noise'.  God is looking for right life styles.


Revelation 2+3

In the messages of Jesus to the churches we see a second one who are

being called to ''go back to what you heard and believed at first''.

(first love)

We must keep tender hearts towards God constantly. Hearts that can hear

his whisper. That are quick to repent when convicted of wrong. To both

of today's churches, Sardis and Thyatira Jesus is calling for

'victorious' people. We are in a battle. There will always be areas

where we fight and some times when we are defeated. However, overall

God is looking for victors.

 From Psalm 130

Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,

who. O Lord could ever survive?

But you offer forgiveness

that we might learn to fear you.

This is an interesting verse. Forgiveness is not so we can sin again

and know God's forgiveness again. It is so we may learn to fear God. 

Forgiveness comes but it comes because God has used the sin to bring us

to an understanding of how he feels about it. This is designed to help

us to fear the Lord.


The pastor is walking down the street one day when he notices a very small boy trying to press a doorbell on a house across the street.  The boy isn't very tall and the doorbell is too high for him to reach.  After watching the boy's efforts, the pastor steps across the street, walks up behind the little fellow and, placing his hand kindly on the child's shoulder leans over and gives the doorbell a solid ring.  Crouching down to the child's level, the pastor smiles and asks, "And now what, my little man?"

To which the boy replies, "Now we run!"


The first mate on a ship decided to celebrate with a bit of stowed-away rum. He got so drunk that he was still a little drunk the next morning. Later in the day, when the first mate had sobered up, he looked in the ship's log. He read the Captain's entry for the day: "The first mate was drunk today."

"Captain, please don't leave that in the log," the mate said. "This could add months or years to my becoming a captain myself."

"Well, is it true?" asked the Captain, knowing full well it was.

"Yes, it's true," admitted the mate.

"If it's true, it has to stay in the log. That's the rule. If it's true, it goes in the log. End of discussion!" said the Captain sternly.

Weeks later, it was the first mate's turn to make the log entry. The first mate wrote: "The ship seems to be in good shape. The Captain was sober today."

During a January revival an evangelist asked the people in line what they needed.

One man's request was for his hearing. The evangelist spit on his finger, put it in the man's ear, prayed for him and asked him, "How's your hearing now?"

He said, "I don't know - it's next Tuesday."

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