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  #1001  
Old 05-06-2011, 04:38 PM
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  #1002  
Old 05-07-2011, 02:35 AM
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Default May 7

Peace And Reconciliation

May 7, 2011

Read: Matthew 18:21-35

Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you? —Matthew 18:33

When the US Civil War ended in 1865, more than half a million soldiers lay dead, the economy was shattered, and people remained deeply divided politically. The observance of Mother’s Day in the United States began with two women’s efforts for peace and reconciliation during this time of anguish. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe called for an International Mother’s Day on which women would unite in opposing war in all its forms. A few years later, Anna Reeves Jarvis began her annual Mother’s Friendship Day in an effort to reunite families and neighbors alienated by the war. There is always great suffering when friends and families are fractured and unwilling to forgive.

The gospel of Jesus Christ brings the promise of peace and reconciliation with God and with each other. When Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive a brother who sinned against him (Matt. 18:21), the Lord surprised everyone with His answer of “seventy times seven” (v.22). Then He told an unforgettable story about a servant who had received forgiveness and failed to pass it on (vv.23-35). As God freely forgives us, so He requires that we extend what we have received to others.

With God’s love and power, forgiveness is always possible.



Oh, what joy and peace we forfeit,
When forgiveness we withhold;
Fellowship with God is broken,
And the heart grows hard and cold. —D. De Haan





Forgiveness is Christianity in action.
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  #1003  
Old 05-08-2011, 02:28 AM
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Default May 8

Learning To Trust

May 8, 2011

Read: Isaiah 66:7-13

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. —Psalm 37:3

When I stuck my camera into the bush to take a picture of the baby robins, they opened their mouths without opening their eyes. They were so used to having mama robin feed them whenever the branches moved that they didn’t even look to see who (or what) was causing the disturbance.

That is the kind of trust that loving mothers instill in their children. That is the kind of mom I am blessed to have. Growing up, I could eat whatever food she put on the table without fear that it would harm me. Although she made me eat things I didn’t like, I knew she did so because they were good for me. If she cared only about what was easy for her, she would have let me eat junk food. No matter what Mom told me to do, or not to do, I knew she had my best interest in mind. She wasn’t trying to keep me from having fun; she was trying to protect me from being hurt.

That is the kind of relationship we have with God, who compared Himself to a mother: “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you” (Isa. 66:13). As His children, we have no reason to fear what happens to us nor to envy what happens to others: “Do not . . . be envious of the workers of iniquity” (Ps. 37:1). When we trust His goodness, we are fed by His faithfulness.



Lord, we’re thankful for this example of motherhood.
But even more, we’re grateful for Your faithful
“mothering” of us displayed in Your compassion
day by day. Help us to find rest in You. Amen.





God’s care surrounds us.
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  #1004  
Old 05-08-2011, 07:54 PM
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Default May 9

Helpful Love

May 9, 2011

Read: John 1:9-14

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. —John 1:14

At the end of my mother’s earthly journey, she and Dad were still very much in love and shared a strong faith in Christ. My mother had developed dementia and began to lose memories of even her family. Yet Dad would regularly visit her at the assisted living home and find ways to accommodate her diminished capacities.

For instance, he would take her some saltwater taffy, unwrap a piece, and place it in her mouth—something she could not do for herself. Then as she slowly chewed the candy, Dad would quietly sit with her and hold her hand. When their time together was over, Dad, beaming with a wide smile, would say, “I feel such peace and joy spending time with her.”

Though touched by Dad’s great joy in helping Mom, I was more affected by the reality that he was depicting God’s grace. Jesus was willing to humble Himself to connect with us in our weaknesses. In reflecting on Christ’s incarnation, John wrote, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14). Taking on human limitations, He did countless acts of compassion to accommodate us in our weakness.

Do you know anyone who might benefit from Jesus’ helpful, accommodating love that could flow through you to them today?



Love is giving for the world’s needs,
Love is sharing as the Spirit leads,
Love is caring when the world cries,
Love is compassion with Christlike eyes. —Brandt





To be a channel of blessing, let Christ’s love flow through you.
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  #1005  
Old 05-10-2011, 01:20 AM
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Default May 10

Come And See

May 10, 2011

Read: John 1:35-46

Come and see. —John 1:39

“Can you tell me where I can find the lightbulbs?”

“Sure. Come with me, and I’ll take you to them.”

In many large stores, employees are instructed to take customers to find what they are looking for rather than simply giving them verbal directions. This common act of courtesy and walking alongside an inquiring person may help us expand our concept of what it means to lead others to Christ.

In John 1, the phrase “come and see” occurs twice. When two curious disciples of John the Baptist asked Jesus where He was staying, the Lord said, “Come and see” (v.39). After spending the day with Him, Andrew found his brother, Simon Peter, and brought him to Jesus (vv.40-41). Later, Philip told Nathanael he had found the Messiah. To Nathanael’s skeptical reply, Philip said, “Come and see” (v.46).

Witnessing for Christ can be a one-time event when we speak the good news about Him to others. But it may also involve walking alongside people who are seeking help and wholeness. Our genuine interest in their spiritual welfare, our prayers, and our involvement with them say without words, “Come and see. Let’s walk together, and I’ll take you to Him.”



The gospel has to be proclaimed,
Its truth we need to share;
But sometimes seekers also need
To see how much we care. —Sper





Kindness and compassion have led more people to Christ than proclamation alone.
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  #1006  
Old 05-11-2011, 12:53 AM
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Default May 11

The Benefit Of The Doubt

May 11, 2011

Read: 1 Corinthians 13

[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. —1 Corinthians 13:7

In 1860, Thomas Inman recom- mended that his fellow doctors not prescribe a medicine for a cure if they weren’t sure it would work. They were to give the patient “the benefit of our doubts.” This phrase is also a legal term meaning that if a jury has conflicting evidence that makes the jurors doubtful, they are to give the verdict of “not guilty.”

Perhaps as Christians, we can learn from and apply this medical and legal phrase to our relationships. Better yet, we can learn from the Bible about giving the benefit of the doubt to others. First Corinthians 13:7 says that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Leon Morris, in the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, says this about the phrase “believes all things”: “To see the best in others . . . . This does not mean that love is gullible, but that it does not think the worst (as is the way of the world). It retains its faith. Love is not deceived . . . but it is always ready to give the benefit of the doubt.”

When we hear something negative about others or we’re suspicious about the motive for their actions, let’s stop before we judge their intentions as wrong or bad. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.



Thinking It Over
To learn more about the love described
in 1 Corinthians 13, read What Is Real Love?
at www.discoveryseries.org/q0714





Love gives others the benefit of the doubt.
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  #1007  
Old 05-12-2011, 01:13 AM
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Default May 12

Come Home

May 12, 2011

Read: Psalm 51:1-13

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. —Psalm 51:12

As 19-year-old Amelia waited in her doctor’s office, she recognized the familiar hymn “Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling” playing over the speaker. It made her smile when she remembered the words. Perhaps a song with the lyrics “shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming” was not the most appropriate background music for a doctor’s office!

Some find this old hymn too sentimental for their taste. But the message of the chorus can be encouraging for the wayward sinner:
Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, “O sinner, come home!”

When a believer replaces God’s will with his own, he will find himself in a backslidden condition, out of fellowship with God, in an unenviable state. Although we sometimes yield to our self-centered nature, God is always ready to welcome us back. Because of His “lovingkindness” and “tender mercies,” it gives Him joy when we forsake our rebellious ways, return to Him, and ask for forgiveness (Ps. 51:1-2; Luke 15).

Has your heart and mind slipped away from your Savior? Jesus is calling and waiting for you to come back home.



O for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me;
Though we have sinned He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me. —Thompson





A child of God is always welcomed home.
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  #1008  
Old 05-13-2011, 12:25 AM
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Default May 13

The Mighty Toe

May 13, 2011

Read: 1 Corinthians 12:14-26

If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? —1 Corinthians 12:15

Recently, I heard of a sport that challenges my imagination—I can’t comprehend why anyone would play it. It’s called “Toe Wrestling.” Every year, people from across the globe gather in England for the world championships. Competitors sit on the ground facing each other and then lock the big toe of the other’s bare foot. The object is to pin the opponent’s foot in a manner similar to the way an arm wrestler pins a competitor’s wrist. It sounds strange to me.

In a way, this unusual competition gives honor to a part of the body that’s largely ignored—until we drop something on it. Our toes and feet are vital parts of our anatomy, yet we pay little attention to them unless they hurt.

Perhaps that’s why Paul used the foot to remind us that there are no unimportant parts in the body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:15, he said, “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body?” The only correct answer: “Of course it’s part of the body.”

Paul wants us to realize that each person in the body of Christ is important. Even if you think of yourself as the most overlooked and ignored member of the body of Christ, you have value. And you can honor God like a true champion by using your unique skills for God’s glory.



God builds His church with different stones,
He makes each one belong;
All shapes and sizes fit in place
To make the structure strong. —Sper





The Lord uses small tools to perform large tasks.
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  #1009  
Old 05-14-2011, 02:19 AM
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Default May 14

Patience To Be Patient

May 14, 2011

Read: Psalm 130

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I do hope. —Psalm 130:5

Children want things now: “But I want dessert now!” “Are we there yet?” “Now can we open our presents?” In contrast, as we get older we learn to wait. Medical students wait through training. Parents wait in hopes that the prodigal will return. We wait for what is worth waiting for, and in the process we learn patience.
God, who is timeless, requires of us a mature faith that may involve delays that seem like trials. Patience is one sign of that maturity, a quality that can develop only through the passing of time.
Many prayers in the Bible come out of the act of waiting. Jacob waited 7 years for a wife and then worked 7 more after being tricked by her father (Gen. 29:15-20). The Israelites waited 4 centuries for deliverance; Moses waited 4 decades for the call to lead them, then 4 more decades for a Promised Land he would not enter.
“My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning,” wrote the psalmist (Ps. 130:6 NIV). The picture comes to mind of a watchman counting the minutes for his shift to be over.
I pray for the patience to endure times of trial, to keep anticipating, keep hoping, keep believing. I pray for patience to be patient.

*
Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint. —Isaiah 40:31
*
*
God seldom does great things in a hurry.
*
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  #1010  
Old 05-15-2011, 01:46 AM
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Default May 15

Strong Words

May 15, 2011

Read: 1 John 3:10-18

Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God. —1 John 3:10

The book titled UnChristian lists reasons why some non-Christians don’t like people who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Their major complaints have to do with the way some Christians act toward unbelievers. The unbelievers in the study tended to view Christians as being hypocritical, judgmental, harsh, and unloving toward people not like themselves.
I’m sure you dislike hearing their view of Christians as I do. Sometimes there’s more truth in their perceptions than we wish there was. In 1 John 3, which begins with the words, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (v.1), John introduces a sharp contrast: Believers love righteousness, keep themselves from sin, and love one another; nonbelievers practice sin, hate others, and abide in death.
These are strong words! We are either followers of Jesus Christ or of the devil. We are like Cain or Abel (v.12; Gen. 4:8-15). John says that love for others is what proves we are genuine children of God (3:10,18-19; 4:7-8). We can’t continue to practice sin and claim to be followers of Christ. Let’s always make sure our words and deeds back up our beliefs.

*
O help us, Lord, to live our lives
So unsaved people clearly see
Reflections of Your loving heart,
Your kindness, and Your purity. —Sper
*
*
Following Christ has two requirements:
Believing, and acting like you do.
*
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