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  #1551  
Old 11-21-2012, 03:25 PM
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Default Nov. 21

The Deaf Hear

November 21, 2012

Read: Romans 10:1-14

How shall they hear without apreacher? —Romans 10:14

When Thomas Gallaudet graduated from seminary in 1814, he had planned on becoming a preacher. However, his call to the ministry took a different turn when he met Alice, a 9-year-old, hearing-impaired girl in his neighborhood. Gallaudet began to communicate with her by writing words with a stick in the dirt. Helping Alice motivated him to help others too. After consulting with European and American experts in educating the deaf, he refined a system widely known today as “signing” (a person’s hands spell out the message). Eventually, he established the American School for the Deaf. Gallaudet’s school for the hearing-impaired contained a Christian curriculum that shared the gospel and included Bible instruction. He had answered the call to preach—but it was to a very special group of people. Signing was the way he communicated the gospel. Like Gallaudet, we too should be sharing the Word of God with people in ways they can understand. Otherwise, “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14). How might God want you to reach out to those around you?

Seeking the lost, and pointing to Jesus, Souls that are weak and hearts that are sore; Leading them forth in ways of salvation, Showing the path to life evermore. —Ogden

Don’t withhold from the world the best news that’s ever come to it.
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  #1552  
Old 11-22-2012, 05:24 PM
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Default Nov. 22

The Joy Of A Generous God

November 22, 2012

Read: Psalm 36:5-12

They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You givethem drink from the river of Your pleasures. —Psalm 36:8

Recently I walked into a hotel lobby that featured the largest arrangement of fresh flowers I have ever seen. It was bursting with color, perfectly arranged, and its fragrance was amazing. It stopped me in my tracks, and I lingered for a moment to admire its beauty. It made me think that there is something about abundance that captures our hearts. Think of the inviting beauty of a bowl overflowing with colorful fruit, or a countertop covered with three or four pies ready for enjoyment after a bountiful Thanksgiving meal. The joy of abundance reminds me of the generosity of God. He makes our cup overflow (Ps. 23:5); He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20); His grace is sufficient for any difficulty that life brings our way (2 Cor. 12:9); and it is He who kills the fatted calf and calls for the best robe when the prodigal returns (see Luke 15:20-24). No wonder the psalmist rejoices: “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house” (Ps. 36:7-8). Our God is abundantly good. Let’s overflow with praise for His many blessings.

Lord, thank You for the reminder that far from being stingy You bless us with good things in abundance. Thank You for Your presence and the comfort of the promises in Your Word.

Keep praising God from whom all blessings flow.
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  #1553  
Old 11-23-2012, 05:48 PM
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Default Nov. 23

The Challenge Of Riches

November 23, 2012

Read: 1 Timothy 6:6-10,17-19

Command those who arerich in this present age not to . . . trust in uncertain riches but in the living God. —1 Timothy 6:17

While our family was living in Kenya in the 1980s, we drove a young woman from Nairobi to visit her parents who lived near Lake Victoria. On the way, we stopped in the city of Kisumu to leave our luggage at a hotel where we would stay after taking her home. When our friend saw our hotel room that we considered an average-size room with two beds, she said, “All this for only five of you?” What we considered ordinary, she saw as luxurious. Riches are relative, and some of us who live in prosperous nations have a tendency to complain about a standard of living that others would gladly embrace. Among the followers of Christ in Ephesus, some had more money than others. To Timothy, their pastor, Paul wrote, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17). Paul urged them to “be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (v.18). Our natural tendency is to grasp what we have instead of freely giving to those in need. The challenge of riches is living with thankful hearts to God and open hands to others.

One grace each child of God can show Is giving from a willing heart; Yet, if we wait till riches grow, It may be that we’ll never start. —D. DeHaan

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.
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  #1554  
Old 11-24-2012, 04:26 PM
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Default Nov. 24

Surprised By God

November 24, 2012

Read: Ephesians 3:14-21

Now to Him who is ableto do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. —Ephesians 3:20

After 10 years of renting in a charming location, we discovered that our landlord suddenly needed to sell the house. I asked God to change the circumstances and make it possible for my wife and me to stay in this place we’d made home, where we’d watched our children grow up. But God said no. When it comes to my needs, I worry that I’m asking for the wrong thing or that I’m not worthy of the request I’m making. But God’s no doesn’t need to shake our faith when we’re grounded—surrounded I like to say—in His love. In Ephesians 3, Paul understood that those who know the love of Christ intimately (vv.16-17) can trust God to have a loving reason for saying no. Shortly after hearing “no” from God about my request, friends from church offered to rent us a home they were vacating. Our new location —with new appliances, new plumbing, new electrical wiring, and an extra bedroom—sits on the ocean, an idyllic scene of ships, sails, and sounds that daily remind us that God is bigger than any issue we face. Our loving Father used loving friends to give more than we asked. Whether God gives us more than we imagined or far less than we desired, we can trust that His plans are much better than ours.

Lord, we know that You are good whether Your answers to our prayers are abundantly more than we asked or much less than we desire. Help us to accept whatever comes to us from Your hand. Thank You.

When God says no to our request, we can be sure it’s for the best.
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  #1555  
Old 11-28-2012, 02:10 PM
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Default Nov. 28

Bookmobile

November 28, 2012

Read: Philippians 3:7-14

That I mayknow Him and the power of Hisresurrection, and thefellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. —Philippians3:10


Before the electronic gadgets and distractions of today, the long summer days of my boyhood were brightened each week when the bookmobile arrived. It was a bus lined with book-filled shelves that were transported from the regional library to neighborhoods so that those without transportation could access them. Because of the bookmobile, I spent many a happy summer day reading books that would otherwise have been inaccessible. To this day, I am thankful for the love of books that the bookmobile fostered in me. Some Bible scholars say that the apostle Paul had a love of books and studied them till the end of his life. He wrote in his final letter, “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments” (2 Tim. 4:13). The books he was asking for could very well have been the Old Testament and/or some of his own writings. I’m sure that Paul’s pursuit of knowledge was more than intellectual curiosity or entertainment. It was the pursuit of Christ that drove Paul. His goal: “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil 3:10). I pray that this same pursuit will drive us today.

Heavenly Father, give me a passionate desire to know You and Your Son. Please stir my heart for this, the greatest of all pursuits, so that I might grow ever closer to You. Amen.

To know Christ is the greatest of all knowledge.
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  #1556  
Old 12-11-2012, 01:47 PM
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Default Dec. 11

Emotional Betrayals

December 11, 2012

Read: Matthew 26:36-46

[Jesus] found them sleeping, and said . . . , “Could you not watch with Me one hour?” —Matthew 26:40


Some years back, another man and I were reading together Matthew 26 about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. “I know this much,” he told me as we read along, “if I’d been with Jesus in Gethsemane, I’d have had His back. No way would I have fallen asleep!” Indignant, he continued, “How could anyone fall asleep after hearing Jesus tell them how troubled He was? He was practically begging!” (v.38). Knowing that our families struggled with our long work hours, I wondered out loud to my friend: “How many times have our children looked for us in the crowd at their school activities, hoping to see us? Do our kids face troubles alone because we are away or busy? Our families and friends have an intense need for personal attention from us. Even Jesus asked His disciples to watch and pray with Him” (see vv.40-45). It is not a simple thing to balance life’s demands against the needs of those we love and serve, but failing to do so is emotional betrayal. As we think about the disciples disappointing Jesus in the Garden, we might want to consider the ways we can today show our care for our loved ones and their interests. Help us, Lord, to love others well.

Open my eyes, Lord, to people around me, Help me to see them as You do above; Give me the wisdom and strength to take action, So others may see the depth of Your love. —K. DeHaan

One measure of our love for Christ is our sensitivity to the needs of others.
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  #1557  
Old 12-12-2012, 01:40 PM
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Default Dec. 12

The Trail Of Tears

December 12, 2012

Read: Revelation 21:1-7

God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. —Revelation 21:4

A very severe and tragic event in US history was the forced relocation of thousands of Native Americans in the early 19th century. Native American tribes, who had struck treaties with and fought alongside the burgeoning white population, were driven out of their ancestral lands. In the winter of 1838, thousands of Cherokee were forced to embark on a brutal 1,000-mile march westward known as The Trail of Tears. This injustice resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, many of whom had little or no clothing, shoes, or supplies for such a journey. The world continues to be filled with injustice, pain, and heartache. And many today may feel as if they are leaving a trail of tears—tears that go unnoticed and grief that is not comforted. But our Lord sees our tears and comforts our weary hearts (2 Cor. 1:3-5). He also declares the hope of a future time not marked by the stains of sin or injustice. In that day and in that place, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). The God who offers freedom from tears in the future is the only One who can fully comfort our tears now.

Loving Father, thank You that our hurts and pains matter to You. Thank You for the promise of an eternity without tears and a life forever with You. Amen.

When God permits trials, He also provides comfort.
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  #1558  
Old 12-13-2012, 01:43 PM
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Default Dec. 13

The Circle Of The Wise

December 13, 2012

Read: 1 John 2:12–17

I write to you, fathers, becauseyou have known Him who is from thebeginning. —1 John 2:13

I used to serve on the elder board of a church in California. One elder, Bob Smith, who was older than most of us, frequently called us back to the Word of God for guidance. On one occasion we were discussing a leadership shortage in the church and had spent an hour or more working through various solutions. Bob was silent throughout the discussion. Finally, he said quietly, “Gentlemen, we’ve forgotten Jesus’ solution to our leadership issue. Before we do anything, we must first ‘ask the Lord of the harvest . . . to send out workers’” (Luke 10:2 NIV). We were humbled, and spent the rest of our time praying that God would raise up workers and send them into the field. C. S. Lewis said, “The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” Proverbs 1:5 says, “A man of understanding will attain wise counsel.” Bob’s comment is just one example of the value of wise men and women who “have known Him who is from the beginning” (1 John 2:13-14) and whose minds are saturated with the Word of God. Let’s take to heart the counsel of those who have lived in the Lord’s presence and are mature in His wisdom. They are God’s gift to us and our churches.

The older saints who trust God’s Word Have trod the paths that we now walk; They’ve fought the battles we now fight—Their wisdom teaches truth and right. —Branon

That one is truly wise who gains his wisdom from the experience of others.
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  #1559  
Old 12-14-2012, 03:45 PM
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Default Dec. 14

I Invented It

December 14, 2012

Read: Job 38:4-18

Wherewereyou when I laid the foundations of theearth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. —Job 38:4

Willard S. Boyle, Nobel Prize winner in physics, was the co-inventor of the “electronic eye” behind the digital camera and the Hubble telescope. He was in the market for a new digital camera and visited a store in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The salesman tried to explain the complexity of the camera to Boyle, but stopped because he felt it was too complicated for him to understand. Boyle then bluntly said to the salesman: “No need to explain. I invented it.” After God allowed Satan to test Job by taking away his family, his health, and his possessions (Job 1–2), Job lamented the day of his birth (ch. 3). In the following chapters, Job questioned why God would allow him to endure so much suffering. Then with divine bluntness, God reminded Job that He “invented” life and created the world (chs. 38–41). God invited him to rethink what he had said. In drawing attention to His sovereign power and the depth of His wisdom displayed everywhere on earth (38:4-41), God exposed the immensity of Job’s ignorance. If we’re tempted to tell God how life should work, let’s remember He invented it! May He help us to humbly acknowledge our ignorance and to rely on Him—the Creator of the universe.

Lord, You are so awesome and great. But sometimes in ignorance and arrogance I attempt to take Your place. I humbly submit my life to You anew and acknowledge that all glory and praise belongs to You. Amen.

To understand God is impossible, but to worship Him is imperative.
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  #1560  
Old 12-14-2012, 04:43 PM
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Is 48:17-19

Thus says the LORD, your redeemer,
the Holy One of Israel:
I, the LORD, your God,
teach you what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go.
If you would hearken to my commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
and those born of your stock like its grains,
Their name never cut off
or blotted out from my presence.

------------------------

Will we follow God's commands that lead to our prosperity and holiness or will we follow our self-love into sin that leads to death? What is our choice today? Which are the gods you must renounce?: vanity, self-righteousness, desire of worldly things as ends, objectifying others for pleausure? Think.

As Moses once said in Deuteronomy 30: 15-20


The Choice Before Israel.
15
See, I have today set before you life and good, death and evil.
16
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I am giving you today, loving the LORD, your God, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and ordinances, you will live and grow numerous, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17
l If, however, your heart turns away and you do not obey, but are led astray and bow down to other gods and serve them,
18
I tell you today that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:m I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live,
20
by loving the LORD, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the LORD swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them.
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- St. Dominic Savio (1842-1857)

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We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend on material success, nor on sciences that cloud the intellect. Neither does it depend on arms and human industries, but on Jesus alone.

- St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917)
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