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  #1011  
Old 05-16-2011, 02:45 AM
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Default May 16

When Life Seems Unfair

May 16, 2011

Read: Psalm 73

I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. —Psalm 73:3

Have you ever felt that life is unfair? For those of us who are committed to following the will and ways of Jesus, it’s easy to get frustrated when people who don’t care about Him seem to do well in life. A businessman cheats yet wins a large contract, and the guy who parties all the time is robust and healthy—while you or your loved ones struggle with finances or medical issues. It makes us feel cheated, like maybe we’ve been good for nothing.
If you’ve ever felt that way, you’re in good company. The writer of Psalm 73 goes through a whole list of how the wicked prosper, and then he says, “Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain” (v.13). But the tide of his thoughts turns when he recalls his time in God’s presence: “Then I understood their end” (v.17).
When we spend time with God and see things from His point of view, it changes our perspective completely. We may be jealous of the nonbelievers now, but we won’t be at judgment time. As the saying goes, what difference does it make if you win the battle but lose the war?
Like the psalmist, let’s praise God for His presence in this life and His promise of the life to come (vv.25-28). He is all you need, even when life seems unfair.

*
All wrongs will one day be set right
By God who sees both bad and good;
All motives and all deeds will then
Be fairly judged and understood. —D. De Haan
*
*
Spending time with God puts everything else in perspective.
__________________
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men"
-Colossians 3:23

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  #1012  
Old 05-17-2011, 03:09 AM
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Default May 17

Alternatives To Revenge

May 17, 2011

Read: Deuteronomy 19:16-21 Matthew 5:38-45

You shall not take vengeance . . . , but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. —Leviticus 19:18

One Sunday while preaching, a pastor was accosted and punched by a man. He continued preaching, and the man was arrested. The pastor prayed for him and even visited him in jail a few days later. What an example of the way to respond to insult and injury!

While there is a place for self-defense, personal revenge was forbidden in the Old Testament: “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18; see also Deut. 32:35). It was also forbidden by Jesus and the apostles (Matt. 5:38-45; Rom. 12:17; 1 Peter 3:9).

The Old Testament law exacted like for like (Ex. 21:23-25; Deut. 19:21), which ensured that judicial punishment was not unjust or malicious. But there was a larger principle looming when it came to personal revenge: Justice must be done, but it must be left in the hands of God or the authorities ordained by God.

Instead of returning injury and insult, may we live by Christ-honoring and Spirit-empowered alternatives: Live at peace with everyone (Rom. 12:18), submit to a spiritual mediator (1 Cor. 6:1-6), and leave it in the hands of authorities and, most of all, in God’s hands.



Lord, when I’m troubled by the insult of another,
help me to let go of my desire for revenge. May I seek
justice but also realize that it will happen in Your
time. I want to learn to overcome evil with good. Amen.





Leave final justice in the hands of a just God.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1013  
Old 05-18-2011, 04:55 AM
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Default May 18

We Shall Be Changed

May 18, 2011

Read: 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8

We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. —1 John 3:2

Being afflicted with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Thomas DeBaggio chronicled his gradual memory loss in the book Losing My Mind. This book records the disturbing process by which—little by little—tasks, places, and people are all forgotten.
Alzheimer’s disease involves the failure of nerve cells in the brain, leading to gradual memory loss, confusion, and disorientation. It can be tragic to watch a previously mentally alert person slowly forget how to dress or fail to recognize the faces of loved ones. It’s like losing the person before he dies.
Memory loss can occur by other means as well, such as injury or life trauma. And for those of us who live into old age, the breakdown of our bodies is inevitable.
But for the Christian, there is hope. When believers receive their glorified bodies at the resurrection, they will be perfect (2*Cor. 5:1-5). But even more important, in heaven we will recognize the One who died to redeem us. We will remember what He did and know Him by the nail prints in His hands (John 20:25; 1 Cor. 13:12).
Forgetfulness may beset our earthly bodies, but when we see the Lord, “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

*
Our Savior’s life for us was given
That we might one day bloom in heaven,
Our mortal bodies changed to be
Like His through all eternity! —Spicer
*
*
In the twinkling of an eye . . . we shall all be changed.
—The Apostle Paul
*
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  #1014  
Old 05-19-2011, 12:40 AM
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Default May 19

Broken Relationships

May 19, 2011

Read: Philippians 4:2-7

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit. —Philippians 2:3

I watched from my balcony as a 20-story apartment building was demolished. The demolition took barely a week to complete. In its place a new building is being constructed. It’s been months now, and despite construction activities going on nights and weekends, it is still incomplete. How much easier it is to tear down than to build up!
What is true for demolition and construction of buildings is also true for personal relationships. In Philippians 4:2, Paul wrote to two women in the church, saying, “I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.” The quarrel between these two women threatened to tear down the witness of the Philippian church if left unresolved. So Paul urged a “true companion” (v.3) to help rebuild that relationship.
Sadly, Christians do quarrel, but we should seek to “live peaceably” with all (Rom. 12:18). Unless our conflicts are resolved, the Christian witness so painstakingly built up can be destroyed. It takes much effort and time to reconcile broken relationships. But it is worth it. Like a new building rising from the ruins, reconciled believers can emerge stronger.
May we seek to build each other up through our words and actions today!

*
We have a common enemy
Who wants to scar the life
Of Jesus’ precious bride, the church,
Through worldliness and strife. —Sper
*
*
Two Christians are better than one— when they’re one.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1015  
Old 05-20-2011, 01:31 AM
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Default May 20

Humbly Receive

May 20, 2011

Read: James 1:13-22

Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. —James 1:21

While reading the first chapter of James, I was struck by the phrase “humbly accept the Word planted in you, which can save you” (v.21 NIV). A decision with which I’d been struggling came to mind, and I thought: I don’t need to read another book, attend another seminar, or ask another friend about this. I need to obey what the Bible tells me to do. My efforts to be better informed had become a means of resisting God’s instruction rather than receiving it.

James was writing to followers of Christ when he said: “Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:21-22).

Bible scholar W. E. Vine said that the Greek word used here for receive means “deliberate and ready reception of what is offered.” Meekness is an attitude toward God “in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.” A humble heart doesn’t fight against God or contend with Him.

God’s powerful Word, implanted in our hearts, is a trustworthy source of spiritual wisdom and strength. It’s available to all who will humbly receive it.



God who formed worlds by the power of His Word
Speaks through the Scriptures His truth to be heard;
And if we read with the will to obey,
He by His Spirit will show us His way. —D. De Haan





Open your Bible prayerfully, read it carefully, and obey it joyfully.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1016  
Old 05-21-2011, 05:15 AM
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Default May 21

Fresh Fruit

May 21, 2011

Read: Psalm 92

The righteous . . . shall still bear fruit in old age. —Psalm 92:12,14

I love the old photographs that are often printed on the obituary page of our local newspaper. A grinning young man in a military uniform and words such as: 92 years old, fought for his country in WWII. Or the young woman with sparkling eyes: 89 years young, grew up on a farm in Kansas during the Depression. The unspoken message is: “I wasn’t always old, you know.”
Too often, those who have had a long life feel sidelined when they reach their later years. Psalm 92, however, reminds us that no matter how old we are, we can have a fresh and fruitful life. Men and women who have been “planted” in the rich soil of God’s vineyard will continue to “bear fruit” and be “fresh and flourishing” (v.14). Jesus promised that “he who abides in Me, and I in him,” will continue to bear “much fruit” (John 15:5).
Yes, muscles may ache and joints may hurt, and life may slow down a bit. But inwardly we can be “renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16).
I recently saw a T-shirt on a beautiful white-haired woman that said: “I’m not 80. I’m 18 with 62 years experience.” No matter how old we get, we can still be young at heart—but with the benefit of a well-lived lifetime of knowledge and wisdom.

*
We can be young in heart and mind,
To others we can yet be kind,
Sing songs of praise to God through tears,
And grow in grace through all our years. —Zimmerman
*
*
Faithfulness is God’s requirement; fruitfulness is His reward.
*
__________________
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1017  
Old 05-22-2011, 02:43 AM
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Default May 22

Sign Language

May 22, 2011

Read: John 1:14-18

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all. —1 Thessalonians 3:12

A friend of mine pastors a church in a small mountain community not far from Boise, Idaho. The community is nestled in a wooded valley through which a pleasant little stream meanders. Behind the church and alongside the stream is a grove of willows, a length of grass, and a sandy beach. It’s an idyllic spot that has long been a place where members of the community gather to picnic.
One day, a man in the congregation expressed concern over the legal implications of “outsiders” using the property. “If someone is injured,” he said, “the church might be sued.” Though the elders were reluctant to take any action, the man convinced them that they should post a sign on the site informing visitors that this was private property. So the pastor posted a sign. It read: “Warning! Anyone using this beach may, at any moment, be surrounded by people who love you.” I read his sign the week after he put it up and was charmed. “Exactly,” I thought. “Once again grace has triumphed over law!”
This love for one’s neighbor springs from God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience with us. It’s not the law, but the goodness of God that draws men and women to repentance (Rom. 2:4) and to saving faith in His Son Jesus Christ.

*
As You have loved me, let me love
Lost souls in darkness dwelling;
To draw the needy ones to You,
Lord, give a zeal compelling! —Bosch
*
*
Love is the magnet that draws believers together
and attracts unbelievers to Christ.
*
__________________
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1018  
Old 05-23-2011, 02:19 AM
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Default May 23

Our Dependency

May 23, 2011

Read: 1 John 2:24–3:3

In Him we live and move and have our being. —Acts 17:28

While enjoying the arrival of a new great-niece, I was reminded of how much work it is to take care of a newborn baby. They are needy little creations who want feeding, changing, holding, feeding, changing, holding, feeding, changing, holding. Totally unable to care for themselves, they depend on those older and wiser people surrounding them.

We’re dependent children too—reliant on our Father in heaven. What do we need from Him that we can’t provide for ourselves? “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). He supplies our very breath. He also meets our needs “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

We need our Father for peace in our troubles (John 16:33), love (1 John 3:1), and help in time of need (Ps. 46:1; Heb. 4:16). He gives victory in temptation (1 Cor. 10:13), forgiveness (1 John 1:9), purpose (Jer. 29:11), and eternal life (John 10:28). Without Him, we “can do nothing” (John 15:5). And from Him, “we have all received one blessing after another” (John 1:16 NIV).

Let’s not think of ourselves as totally independent—because we’re not. The Lord sustains us day by day. In many ways, we’re as needy as a newborn baby.



We are dependent on the Lord
Who showers us with blessing;
He gives us everything we need—
Without Him we are nothing. —Sper





Depending on God isn’t weakness;
it’s acknowledging His strength.
__________________
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1019  
Old 05-24-2011, 03:18 AM
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Default May 24

Simplify

May 24, 2011

Read: Matthew 6:25-34

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. —Matthew 6:34

In a radio interview, a basketball superstar was asked about his knack for making the game-winning shot in crucial situations. The reporter asked how he was able to be so calm in such pressure-packed moments. His answer was that he tried to simplify the situation. “You only have to make one shot,” the player replied. One shot. That is the essence of simplifying a difficult situation. Focus only on what is in front of you right now. Don’t worry about the expectations of your coach or teammates. Simplify.

Recognizing that the challenges of life can be both overwhelming and suffocating, Jesus urged us to take matters in hand by simplifying. He said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:34). This was His wise conclusion to His teaching on the debilitating power of worry. Worry doesn’t accomplish anything positive; it just adds to the sense that we are drowning in the troubles we are facing. We must take things as they come*—one day at a time*—and trust Him for the wisdom to respond properly.

If you feel overwhelmed by life, do what you can today and then entrust the rest to Him. As Jesus said, “Each day has enough trouble of its own” (niv).



Don’t worry for your future needs,
It will only bring you sorrow;
But give them to the Lord instead—
He’ll take care of your tomorrow. —Sper





We lose the joy of living in the present
when we worry about the future.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1020  
Old 05-25-2011, 02:46 AM
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Default May 25

The Real Prize

May 25, 2011

Read: Ephesians 5:22-33

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. —Ephesians 5:25

I’ve been amazed at the impact that my wife, Martie, has had on the lives of our kids. Very few roles demand the kind of unconditional, self-sacrificing perseverance and commitment as that of motherhood. I know for certain that my character and faith have been shaped and molded by my mom, Corabelle. Let’s face it, where would we be without our wives and mothers?

It reminds me of one of my favorite memories in sports history. Phil Mickelson walked up the 18th fairway at the Masters Golf Tournament in 2010 after his final putt to clinch one of golf’s most coveted prizes for the third time. But it wasn’t his victory leap on the green that had an impact on me. It was when he made a beeline through the crowd to his wife, who was battling life-threatening cancer. They embraced, and the camera caught a tear running down Phil’s cheek as he held his wife close for a long time.

Our wives need to experience the kind of sacrificial, selfless love that has been shown to us by the Lover of our souls. As Paul put it, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25). Prizes come and go, but it’s the people you love—and who love you—that matter most.



A man who finds a godly wife
Is blest beyond compare;
She is his greatest prize in life—
A treasure rich and rare. —D. De Haan





Life is not about the prizes we win, but the people we love.
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-Colossians 3:23

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