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  #991  
Old 04-27-2011, 04:09 AM
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Default Apr. 27

Whispering Gallery

April 27, 2011

Read: Proverbs 10:11-23

In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise. —Proverbs 10:19

London’s domed St. Paul’s Cathedral has an interesting architectural phenomenon called the “whispering gallery.” One Web site explains it this way: “The name comes from the fact that a person who whispers facing the wall on one side can be clearly heard on the other, since the sound is carried perfectly around the vast curve of the Dome.”

In other words, you and a friend could sit on opposite sides of architect Sir Christopher Wren’s great cathedral and carry on a conversation without having to speak above a whisper.

While that may be a fascinating feature of St. Paul’s Cathedral, it can also be a warning to us. What we say about others in secret can travel just as easily as whispers travel around that gallery. And not only can our gossip travel far and wide, but it often does great harm along the way.

Perhaps this is why the Bible frequently challenges us about the ways we use words. The wise King Solomon wrote, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Prov. 10:19).

Instead of using whispers and gossip that can cause hurt and pain while serving no good purpose, we would do better to restrain ourselves and practice silence.



Lord, help us bridle what we say
And tend our conversations,
Avoiding careless gossiping
That murders reputations. —Sper





Gossip ends at a wise person’s ears.
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  #992  
Old 04-28-2011, 02:24 AM
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Default Apr. 28

Haters Of God

April 28, 2011

Read: 2 Timothy 2:23-26

God gave them over to a debased mind. —Romans 1:28

Recently, I listened to an audiobook by a militant advocate for atheism. As the author himself read his own work with spiteful sarcasm and contempt, it made me wonder why he was so angry.

The Bible tells us that a rejection of God can actually lead to a more hateful attitude toward Him: “Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind . . . [to become] haters of God” (Rom. 1:28-30).

Turning one’s back on God does not lead to secular neutrality. Indeed, recent militant atheists have shown their desire to remove any reference to a Creator from culture.

When we hear about atheists trying to remove crosses or the Ten Commandments from society, it’s easy to respond to their hatred of God with our own hatred. But we’re exhorted to defend the truth with an attitude of love, “in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25).

The next time you see the works or hear the words of a hater of God, do an attitude check. Then ask God for a spirit of humility and pray that the offender might come to the knowledge of the truth.



Lord, help us not respond in kind
To those who hate and turn from You;
Instead, help us to love and pray
That someday they’ll accept what’s true. —Sper





Defend the truth with love.
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  #993  
Old 04-29-2011, 02:55 AM
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Default Apr. 29

Star Power

April 29, 2011

Read: Job 38:1-11,31-33

Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth? —Job 38:33

For all of us who, like Job, have suffered through tragedy and then dared to aim our questions at God, chapter 38 of Job’s book should give us plenty to think about. Imagine what it must have felt like for the great man of the East when “out of the whirlwind” he heard God say, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me” (vv.1-3). Gulp!

Job must have felt as puny as an ant. As God unveiled His questions in the verses that follow, what He said was as unexpected as it was powerful. He didn’t really answer Job’s “why” questions. Instead, God seemed to be telling him to notice the power and might with which He created this world and to observe His ability to control every element of it. Isn’t that reason enough to trust God? Job should have been asking himself.

As one example of His awesome power, God pointed to the sky and told Job to observe two of His awe-inspiring creations: Pleiades and Orion (v.31). Highlighting His grandeur and man’s relative insignificance, God mentioned two constellations that demonstrate power beyond our understanding.

This is Someone we can trust. If He has the stars in His hands, surely He can take care of us as well.



Creator of the universe
Who reigns in awesome majesty:
How can it be You love and care
For such a one as me? —Sper





He who holds the stars in space holds His people in His hands.
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  #994  
Old 04-30-2011, 04:01 AM
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Default Apr. 30

Abusing Grace?

April 30, 2011

Read: Romans 6:1-14

Do not let sin reign in your mortal body. —Romans 6:12

Paul said in Romans 5:20, “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” But that radical concept opens a theological floodgate. The biblical writer Jude warned that it is possible to “change the grace of our God into a license for immorality” (Jude 4 NIV). Why be good if you know you will be forgiven? Not even an emphasis on repentance erases this danger completely.

In Romans 6, Paul spoke directly to the point. “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” He gave a short, explosive answer: “Certainly not!” (vv.1-2) and used an analogy that starkly contrasts death and life. “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (v.2). No Christian resurrected to new life should be pining for sin.

Yet wickedness does not always seem to have the stench of death about it. Sin can be downright appealing.

Paul recognized this, so he advised: “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” and “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body” (vv.11-12).

If we truly grasped the wonder of God’s love for us, we would spend our days trying to fathom and share, not exploit, His grace.



I am unworthy to take of His grace,
Wonderful grace so free;
Yet Jesus suffered and died in my place
Even for a soul like me. —Roth





God does not save us by grace so that we may live in disgrace. —Faber
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  #995  
Old 05-01-2011, 04:53 AM
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Default May 1

If I Could Stop The Clock

May 1, 2011

Read: 1 Kings 10:23–11:4

The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. —1 Kings 8:11

Every year when May rolls around in Michigan, I want to stop the clock. I rejoice when death is defeated by fragile sprouts that refuse to be confined by hardened clay and brittle branches. Over a few weeks, the naked landscape transforms into fully clothed trees adorned by bright, fragrant flowers. I can’t get enough of the sights, sounds, and scents of springtime. I want time to stop moving.

Also in May, I come to 1 Kings in my Bible reading schedule. When I get to chapter 10, I have the same feeling: I want the story to stop. The nation of Israel has bloomed. Solomon has become king and has built a magnificent dwelling place for God, who moved in with a blaze of glory (8:11). Finally united under a righteous king, they are at peace. I love happy endings!

But the story doesn’t end there. It continues: “But King Solomon loved many foreign women” (11:1), and “his wives turned his heart after other gods” (v.4).

Just as the seasons of the year continue, so do the cycles of life—birth and death, success and failure, sin and confession. Although we have no power to stop the clock while we’re enjoying good times, we can rest in God’s promise that eventually all bad times will end (Rev. 21:4).



Father, our days are filled with pleasures and struggles.
We would like for life just to have the joys, but we know
that’s not realistic in this sinful world. Help us to wait
patiently for You to bring us Home. Amen.





In good times and bad, God never changes.
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  #996  
Old 05-02-2011, 12:30 AM
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Default May 2

Two Rules To Live By

May 2, 2011

Read: Matthew 22:34-40

On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. —Matthew 22:40

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by rules and expectations? Think of how the Jewish people must have felt as they tried to keep up with more than 600 rules from the Old Testament and many more that had been imposed on them by the religious leaders of their day. And imagine their surprise when Jesus simplified the pursuit of righteousness by narrowing the list down to just two—“love the Lord your God” (Matt. 22:37) and “love your neighbor as yourself” (v.39).

In essence, Jesus is telling us that the way God knows we love Him is by how we treat people. All of them. Let’s face it—loving our neighbor can be a challenge. But when we do it to express our love to God, we unleash a powerful motivation that loves whether the person deserves it or not. And as we love God and our neighbor, everything else falls into place. If I love my neighbor, I won’t bear false witness against him, covet his wealth or his wife, or steal from him. Loving others for God’s sake even provides the grace and strength to forgive those who have heaped injustices upon us.

Who needs to see God’s love today through you? The more unlovable the person, the greater the statement about how much you love God!



To love your God with all your heart,
Your soul, your strength, your mind,
Enables you to love someone
Who’s hurtful and unkind. —Sper





Loving God is the key to loving others.
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  #997  
Old 05-02-2011, 10:31 PM
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Default May 3

Never Alone

May 3, 2011

Read: Hebrews 13:1-8

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” —Hebrews 13:5

Having played intercollegiate soccer, I’ve never lost my love for “The Beautiful Game.” I especially enjoy watching the English Premier League. One reason is the skill and speed with which the game is played there. Also, I love the way the fans sing in support of their beloved “sides.” For instance, Liverpool has for years had “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as its theme. How moving to hear 50,000 fans rise as one to sing the lyrics of that old standard! It’s an encouragement to players and fans alike that together they will see each other through to the end. Walk alone? Never.

This sentiment has meaning for everyone. Because each of us is made for community, isolation and loneliness are among the most painful of human experiences. During painful times, our faith is vital.

The child of God never needs to fear abandonment. Even if people turn on us, friends forsake us, or circumstances separate us from loved ones, we are never alone. God has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). This is not just a nice tune or clever lyrics offering an empty sentiment. It is the promise of God Himself to those who are the objects of His love. He is there—and He isn’t going away.

With Christ, you will never walk alone.



God’s unseen presence comforts me,
I know He’s always near;
And when life’s storms besiege my soul,
He says, “My child, don’t fear.” —D. De Haan





God’s presence with us is one of His greatest presents to us.
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  #998  
Old 05-04-2011, 02:32 AM
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Default May. 4

Two Words

May 4, 2011

Read: James 4:7-10

Submit to God. —James 4:7

In the annals of US advertising history, one of the most efficient slogans ever is the California milk producers’ two-word question, “Got milk?” With that phrase, the group captured almost everyone’s attention. In surveys, the slogan was recognized by more than 90 percent of the people polled.

If “Got milk?” is so good at reminding people to drink “cow juice,” perhaps we can create some two-word slogans to remind ourselves to live more godly lives. Let’s turn to James 4 and try it. This passage gives four specific guidelines.

1. Give in! Verse 7 tells us to submit to God. Our sovereign God loves us, so why not let Him run the show? Submission helps us resist the devil. 2. Get close! Verse 8 reminds us of the value of drawing near to God. It’s up to us to close the gap between us and God. 3. Clean up! Verse 8 also reminds us to make sure our hearts are clean. That happens through confessing our sins to God. 4. Get down! James says we need to be humble before God (v.10). That includes viewing our sin as something to weep over.

Give in! Get close! Clean up! Get down! These pairs of words may not look as good on a T-shirt as “Got milk?” But they sure will look good on us.



Lord, help me live a godly life
Of faith and love and purity
So those who watch my life will see
Reflections of Your work in me. —Sper





The most powerful testimony is a godly life.
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  #999  
Old 05-05-2011, 01:52 AM
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Default May 5

Time To Pray?

May 5, 2011

Read: Psalm 70

Make haste to help me, O Lord! —Psalm 70:1

One morning, when I was a young child, I was sitting in the kitchen, watching my mother prepare breakfast. Unexpectedly, the grease in the skillet in which she was frying bacon caught fire. Flames shot into the air and my mother ran to the pantry for a bag of flour to throw on the blaze.

“Help!” I shouted. And then I added, “Oh, I wish it was time to pray!” “It’s time to pray” must have been a frequent household expression, and I took it quite literally to mean we could pray only at certain times.

The time to pray, of course, is any time—especially when we’re in crisis. Fear, worry, anxiety, and care are the most common occasions for prayer. It is when we are desolate, forsaken, and stripped of every human resource that we naturally resort to prayer. We cry out with the words of David, “Help me, O Lord!” (Ps. 70:1).

John Cassian, a 5th-century Christian, wrote of this verse: “This is the terrified cry of someone who sees the snares of the enemy, the cry of someone besieged day and night and exclaiming that he cannot escape unless his Protector comes to the rescue.”

May this be our simple prayer in every crisis and all day long: “Help, Lord!”



Any hour when helping others,
Or when bearing heavy care,
Is the time to call our Father,
It’s the proper time for prayer. —Zimmerman





There is no place or time we cannot pray.
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  #1000  
Old 05-06-2011, 02:03 AM
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Default May 6

The Wise Ant

May 6, 2011

Read: Proverbs 6:6-11

[The ant] provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. —Proverbs 6:8

Every year I do something special to celebrate the arrival of spring —I buy ant traps. Those little invaders continually march into our kitchen in search of any crumb left on the floor. They aren’t picky; a shard of potato chip, a grain of rice, or even a speck of cheese will do.

Although ants may be a nuisance, Solomon praised them for their steadfast work ethic (Prov. 6:6-11). He pointed out that ants are self-directed. They have “no captain, overseer, or ruler” (v.7), yet they are very productive. The ants also keep busy even when it’s not immediately necessary, providing supplies in the summer and gathering food in the harvest (v.8). By the time winter arrives, they’re not worried about what they will eat. Little by little, these hard workers have saved up enough to sustain themselves.

We can learn from the ant. When God gives us times of plenty, we can prepare for times when resources may be low. God is the provider of all that we have, including our ability to work. We are to work diligently, be wise stewards of what He has provided, and then rest in the promise of His care (Matt. 6:25-34).

Let’s remember Solomon’s advice: “Go to the ant . . . . Con-sider her ways and be wise” (Prov. 6:6).



The humble ant’s keen industry
Can teach us all a lesson,
If in creation we will see
God’s classroom is in session. —Gustafson





Trust God for today—and prepare for tomorrow.
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