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  #1521  
Old 10-09-2012, 02:23 AM
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Default Oct. 9

Still In God’s Hands

October 9, 2012

Read: Job 1:13-22

In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. —Job 1:22



During my first year of seminary, I listened as a new friend described her life. Abandoned by her husband, she was raising two small children alone. Earning just over minimum wage, she had little chance of escaping the poverty and dangers she described in her neighborhood. As a father, I was moved by her concern for her children, and asked, “How do you handle all of this?” She seemed surprised by my question and replied, “We are doing all we can do, and I must leave them in God’s hands.” Her trust in God in the midst of trials reminded me of Job’s trust (1:6-22). A year later, she phoned and asked if I would come be with her at the funeral home. Her son had been killed in a drive-by shooting. I asked God for words to comfort her and for the wisdom not to try to explain the unexplainable. Standing with her that day, however, I marveled as again and again she comforted others—her confidence in God unshaken by this terrible blow. Turning to me as we parted, her final words were a poignant reminder of the depth of her faith: “My boy is still in God’s hands.” Like Job, she “did not sin nor charge God with wrong”(v.22). We too can develop an unshakable faith by daily walking with the Lord.

O the peace I find in Jesus, Peace no power on earth can shake, Peace that makes the Lord so precious, Peace that none from me can take. —Beck

Nothing can shake those who are secure in God’s hands.
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  #1522  
Old 10-10-2012, 03:24 AM
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Default Oct. 10

Jesus Is Near

October 10, 2012

Read: Genesis 28:10-22

Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it. —Genesis 28:16

Samuel, who was 4, had finished eating his dinner and asked if he could be dismissed from the table. He wanted to go outside to play. But he was too young to be out alone, so his mother said, “No. You can’t go outside by yourself. You need to wait for me to finish and go with you.” His quick reply: “But, Mommy, Jesus is with me!” Samuel had learned well from his parents that the Lord is always by his side. We see in our Bible reading today that Jacob had learned that lesson too. His father Isaac had blessed him and told him to find a wife from among his mother’s family (Gen. 28:1-4). He followed that directive and traveled toward Haran. As Jacob slept, the Lord came to him in a dream and said, “I am with you and will keep you wherever you go . . . ; for I will not leave you” (v.15). When he awoke, he knew that he had heard from God, and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place” (v.16). Confident of God’s presence, he committed himself to following Him with his life (vv.20-21). If we have received Jesus as our Savior (John 1:12), we can be confident and take comfort in the truth that He is always present with us (Heb. 13:5). Like Jacob, may our response to His love be wholehearted devotion.

Thank You, Lord, for walking with us every day. You are our guardian, friend, and guide. May we sense Your loving presence and always know that You are close by our side. Amen.

Our loving God is always near—forever by our side.
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  #1523  
Old 10-11-2012, 02:46 AM
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Default Oct. 11

Panic Or Pray?

October 11, 2012

Read: 2 Chronicles 14:1-11

Help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. —2 Chronicles 14:11

An 85-year-old woman, all alone in a convent, got trapped inside an elevator for 4 nights and 3 days. Fortunately, she had a jar of water, some celery sticks, and a few cough drops. After she tried unsuccessfully to open the elevator doors and get a cell phone signal, she decided to turn to God in prayer. “It was either panic or pray,” she later told CNN. In her distress, she relied on God and waited till she was rescued. Asa was also faced with the options of panic or pray (2 Chron. 14). He was attacked by an Ethiopian army of a million men. But as he faced this huge fighting force, instead of relying on military strategy or cowering in dread, he turned to the Lord in urgent prayer. In a powerful and humble prayer, Asa confessed his total dependence on Him, asked for help, and appealed to the Lord to protect His own name: “Help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude” (v.11). The Lord responded to Asa’s prayer, and he won the victory over the Ethiopian army. When we are faced with tight spots, meager resources, a vast army of problems, or seemingly dead-end solutions, let’s not panic but instead turn to God who fights for His people and gives them victory.

In my distress, anxiety, and fear, Lord, teach me to rely on You and draw close to You. Then I know I’ll be able to stand strong in Your power and won’t be dependent on my own strength.

Prayer is the bridge between panic and peace
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  #1524  
Old 10-12-2012, 03:40 AM
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Default Oct. 12

A Working Church

October 12, 2012

Read: Revelation 2:1-7

We give thanks to God always for you all, . . . remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope. —1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

My wife, Shirley, and I enjoyed a cruise along the fjords of Norway in celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary. As we journeyed northward, we stopped in numerous towns and villages, often visiting churches. Among them was a 12th-century church that our guide described proudly as “still a working church.” I asked, “What do you mean?” She referred to the days of the state church, when the state-appointed pastors simply collected their paychecks but no one attended the services. But this church had been faithfully holding worship services and actively serving the Lord for almost 1,000 years! I immediately thought of the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 to whom Jesus said, “I know your works” (2:2,9,13,19; 3:1,8,15). In addition, the church of Thessalonica was commended by the apostle Paul for its “work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:3). I also thought of my church at home. For more than 130 years it has been faithful in preaching and caring for its congregation and community. It is truly a “working church.” What a privilege we have if we’re part of a local body of believers where we can grow and serve our Lord!

Lord, thank You for placing us into Your family and giving us the privilege and responsibility to serve You through our churches. May we be a shining light of Your love to our communities and the world.

The church is a living body and must have working parts.
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  #1525  
Old 10-14-2012, 02:50 PM
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Default Oct. 14

Lessons From A Fence

October 14, 2012

Read: Matthew 7:21-29

Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. —Matthew 7:24

When a section of fence around our house blew down in a howling March wind, my first reaction was to blame the man who built it for me only a few months before. On further reflection, I knew the fault was mine. As the fence was nearing completion, I told him there was no need to replace four existing posts from the previous fence with new ones set in concrete. “Just attach the new fence to the old posts,” I said. “It will be fine.” It was—until the winds came. Jesus told a powerful story to emphasize the importance of building our lives on the solid foundation of obeying His Word. “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand” (Matt. 7:24-26). When the wind and rain beat against the houses, only the one built on the rock remained standing. Hearing God’s Word is essential, but doing what He says is the key to weathering the storms of life. It’s never too late to start building on the Rock.

The wise man builds his house on rock Instead of sinking sand; For when the storms of life descend, That house will surely stand. —Sper

When the world around you is crumbling, God is the Rock on which you can stand.
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  #1526  
Old 10-15-2012, 03:16 AM
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Default Oct. 15

An Escort Through The Valley

October 15, 2012

Read: Psalm 23

O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? —1 Corinthians 15:55

I’ve heard people say, “I’m not afraid of death because I’m confident that I’m going to heaven; it’s the dying process that scares me!” Yes, as Christians, we look forward to heaven but may be afraid of dying. We need not be ashamed to admit that. It is natural to be afraid of the pain that comes with dying, of being separated from our loved ones, of possibly impoverishing our families, and of regret over missed earthly opportunities. Why don’t Christians need to be afraid of death? Because Jesus was raised from the grave, and we who are in Christ will also be raised. That is why in 1 Corinthians 15:56-57, Paul proclaimed: “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The dying process itself is but an escort that ushers us into eternity with God. As we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” we can have this confidence from God’s Word: “You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4). The picture here is of the Lord coming alongside us, giving comfort and direction as He escorts us through the dark valley to the “house of the LORD.” There we will dwell with Him forever (v.6).

Think of just crossing a river, Stepping out safe on that shore, Sadness and suffering over, Dwelling with Christ evermore! —Anon.

Death is the last shadow before heaven’s dawn
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  #1527  
Old 10-16-2012, 03:25 AM
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Default Oct. 16

No More; No Less

October 16, 2012

Recently I was reading about how easy it is to mishandle the message of the Bible. We may try to make it support what we already believe is true instead of allowing it to speak to us with God’s intended message. Some people use the Bible to defend one side of an issue, while others use the Bible to attack that same issue. Both quote Scripture to support their views, but both can’t be right.

It is important as we use God’s Word that we are committed to saying no more and no less than the Scriptures actually say. If we mishandle the Word, we misrepresent it, which ultimately misrepresents God’s character. This is why Paul challenged Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). A key priority for unashamed, approved workers for Christ is to accurately interpret (“rightly divide”) God’s Word. As we study, we can depend on the Spirit, who inspired it, to give us understanding and wisdom.

Through our words and actions, we have opportunity to represent God’s Word in ways that genuinely reflect God’s heart. That is one of the greatest privileges of the Christian life.

Father, thank You for giving us Your Word to guide our lives. May we give it the serious care and handling it so richly deserves, and may we live it out daily through our actions and attitudes. Amen.

God’s Word—handle with care.
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  #1528  
Old 10-17-2012, 03:30 AM
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Default Oct. 17

Before The Beginning

October 17, 2012

Read: Genesis 1

O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. —John 17:5


When he was a teenager, my son asked me one of those questions that make you earn your pay as a parent. “Dad,” Steve inquired, “if God has existed for eternity, what was He doing before He created the universe?” So, what was happening in the eons before “God created the heavens and the earth”? (Gen. 1:1). For one thing, we know that there was “wisdom” before creation itself, which came from God’s character. Wisdom, personified in Proverbs 8:23, said, “I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth.” Also, we know that God’s salvation plan of grace was in the works before the world was hung in its place. In 2 Timothy 1:9, we read that grace “was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” Likewise, Titus 1:2 says that eternal life was promised “before time began.” We also know that Jesus was glorified and loved in God’s presence “before the world was” (John 17:5; see also v.24). These tiny glimpses of God before He created the earth help us see a little of the essence and magnitude of our awesome, eternal God. We see His majesty and greatness. Amazing, isn’t it? We worship a God who existed from the beginning . . . and beyond.

Great God of the universe, we stand amazed that You are the Alpha and Omega—the Beginning and the End—and so much more. Thank You that we can worship and magnify You.

The created world is but a small parenthesis in eternity. —Sir Thomas Browne
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  #1529  
Old 10-18-2012, 04:09 AM
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Default Oct. 18

What Has God Done For Me Lately?

October 18, 2012

Read: Matthew 20:1-16

Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? —Matthew 20:15

I met a man who was absolutely convinced that God couldn’t forgive him for the things he’d done. An older man took him under his wing, and a year later, I was delighted that the younger man had not only accepted Jesus as his Savior but was also consuming Scripture ravenously. Three years later, though, when I talked with him, I noticed that his enthusiasm had been replaced by grumbling: “I just don’t understand how God can let evil people prosper while so many of His children (including himself, he might have added) are struggling to make ends meet.” The grumbling ate at the joy of his faith. Like so many of us, he had forgotten how much he had needed Christ’s grace. The gratitude he had felt when he first received the Lord was now lost. This reminds us of the vineyard workers in Jesus’ parable (Matt. 20:1-16). Their focus shifted to what was happening to and for other people (vv.10-12). While God owes us nothing, He freely gives us the salvation He promises when we accept Christ. He then adds to His generosity by sending His Spirit to help us in this life as we prepare for the joy of eternity with Him. The seeming unfairness of life demands that we keep our eyes on Him and His Word—not on others.

Lord, I admit that my focus at times gets drawn to others and what they have. Forgive me and help me to stop grumbling. You are good to me and provide what I need. Thank You. Amen.

All you need to know to be content is this: God is good
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  #1530  
Old 10-19-2012, 02:09 PM
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Default Oct. 19

Unused Gears

October 19, 2012

My first bike had one gear. Whether I was going fast or slow, uphill or downhill, that gear did everything. My next bike had three gears: one for level surfaces, one for going uphill, and one for going downhill. My third bike had ten gears, allowing me an even broader range of choices. Even though my last bike had several gears to choose from, I didn’t use all of them every time I rode. Some were best suited for starting and climbing, others were reserved for gaining speed, and others were best for a leisurely pace. But the thing about gears is this: Even though I wasn’t using all of them at the time, it didn’t mean I would never need them.

The same can be true in regard to our spiritual gifts and abilities. During times when I feel I am not being used to do certain things I once did, instead of feeling useless and unappreciated I thank God for the “gear” I’m currently able to use. Just because a skill is not needed right now doesn’t mean it never will be.

Our spiritual gifts are needed in different ways at different times. Needs and circumstances change in unforeseeable and unpredictable ways. The apostle Paul reminded Titus, “Be ready for every good work” (Titus 3:1). May that be true of us as well.

Heavenly Father, I need to remember that what I do is up to You, but how I do it is up to me. Whether I am busy or still, may I be peaceable, gentle, humble, kind, and loving.

Keep your tools ready—God will find work for you.
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