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One of the most frightening punishments that can be afflicted on anyone is to place him in solitary confinement. He is shut up all by himself. There is no one to talk to, no one to laugh with, no one to share his hopes, burdens or ideas with. He is left alone with his own thoughts and his own conscience. Those who are left for a long time in solitary confinement, with no interaction with other people, quite often go insane.

Keep Your Clothes With You!

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Washing Clothes

Some people like to play practical jokes on others. Among friends – each trying to outwit the other – this can be a source of mutual fun and enjoyment. Years later they will still laugh about what they did to one another. However, there are times when a practical joke can be cruel and embarrassing. For example, suppose you were bathing at a communal facility and someone took your clothes and towel? What could you do? Unless someone else took pity on you and loaned you their own clothing you would be humiliated.


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A Funeral Procession

When someone does something against us it is natural for us to want justice. We want the wrong to be righted. We want compensation for the loss we suffered. But we do not stop there. We not only want justice, we want retribution. We want the person who wronged us to suffer at least as much pain as he inflicted upon us. When it seems to us that the other person will not have to pay or that it is taking too long for justice to be done, we are tempted to take revenge into our own hands. Such is the inconsistency of human nature, however, that when it is us who has wronged another we do not want justice, we want mercy!


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A Forest Fire

Can you imagine what life would be like without fire? Life would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Certainly civilization, as we know it, could not exist. Think about it. How could we cook our food without fire? Much of the world depends upon the ability to burn wood, gas or some sort of oil like kerosene, to cook. Even the electricity which powers electric stoves often comes from generating plants which burn coal or fuel-oil.

What If...

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The Tomb Of Esther

In the city of Hamadan in the country of Iran there is a humble building made of stone. Inside the building is a carefully preserved tomb. This tomb has been faithfully maintained and guarded for almost 2,500 years.

Why is this tomb still cherished? Why do people still honor the woman buried there when almost everyone else from that time has been totally forgotten? It is because her actions saved an entire people. She put her own life on the line to save others from certain death. Her name was Hadassah.

What Will We Be?

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A Bare Tree

During the autumn many trees lose their leaves. After blooming during spring or summer many plants lose their flowers. If you move to a different locality and see trees or plants with which you are not familiar, it is sometimes difficult to imagine what a tree or other plant will look like when it leafs out or blooms. It’s hard to see the beautiful flower in the bare twig.

What Does God Require?

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A Sacrificial Lamb

Have you ever known someone who is very religious – who is scrupulous about public prayers and keeping all the rituals – yet does not seem to have a godly character? If you were to speak to him about it he would reply that he has done everything God requires. He has done his duty. In fact, his good deeds have won him extra merit which will more than offset any minor deficiencies God might find in him. Such a person looks at God as someone who must be appeased but really has no interest in a personal relationship with us. In his view, religious rituals and acts of charity give one a license to live however one wishes.


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A River During Winter

Has your heart ever thrilled at the sight of a lofty mountain thrusting its summit towards the sky? There is something about mountains which speaks to our soul. The pure white of everlasting snow against the dark blue of the heavens calls forth thoughts of purity and majesty. The snowy heights awake feelings of awe. We are smitten with their beauty. But have you ever asked yourself what the purpose of snow is? Is it there merely to delight us with its glory?

Is It True?

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Studying the Bible

Every day we are bombarded with all kinds of messages. Some people say this; other people say that, and everyone wants us to believe them. Many of those clamoring for our attention have ulterior motives. They hope to derive some benefit from what they tell us. Advertisers want us to buy their products. Political parties want us to support them. And, sadly, even some religious leaders are more interested in receiving offerings or bragging about the size of their followings than they are about our spiritual wellbeing. Even with those people who love us, wish us well and have our best interests in mind, we still face a problem: How can we know that what they tell us is true?

Who To Pay?

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Coin with Image and Inscription

Some people once tried to trap Jesus by asking Him whether it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. They thought that no matter how He answered, Jesus would land Himself in trouble. If He said “Yes” it would anger the Jews because they resented the Romans who ruled over them. If He said “No” it would get Him in trouble with the Roman authorities for advocating resistance to their rule. If Jesus refused to answer, it would undercut His own authority as a teacher. His critics could claim that He didn’t have the moral courage to confront the tough issues of the day.