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  #1021  
Old 05-26-2011, 01:55 AM
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Default May 26

Trust And Sadness

May 26, 2011

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Even in laughter the heart may sorrow. —Proverbs 14:13

In early 1994, when our family found out that the US soccer team would be playing in Michigan in the World Cup, we knew we had to go.

What a great time we had as we went to the Pontiac Silverdome to see the US take on Switzerland! It was one of the most remarkable events of our lives.

There was just one problem. One of our four children, 9-year-old Melissa, couldn’t join us. While we enjoyed the event, it was not the same without her. Even in our joy at being there, we felt sadness because of her absence.

As I think back on that day, I’m reminded that our sadness then is a little like our sadness now that Melissa is gone from this life—having died in a car accident 8 years after that game. While we cherish the help of the “God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3), even that great comfort doesn’t change the reality of her empty chair at family gatherings. Scripture doesn’t tell us that God wipes away our sadness in this life, but it does tell us that God is faithful and will comfort us.

If you have lost a loved one, lean heavily on God’s comfort. Keep trusting Him. But know that it’s okay to feel sadness for this absence. Consider it one more reason to place your burdens on your loving heavenly Father.



I have been through the valley of weeping,
The valley of sorrow and pain;
But the God of all comfort was with me,
At hand to uphold and sustain. —Garlock





Earth has no sorrow that heaven does not feel.
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  #1022  
Old 05-27-2011, 03:01 AM
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Default May 27

The Pilot’s Rutter

May 27, 2011

Read: Psalm 119:129-136

Direct my steps by Your Word. —Psalm 119:133

During the era of great sea exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries, sailing ships traversed vast, hazardous oceans and navigated dangerous coastlines. Pilots used various navigation techniques—including a book called a “rutter” (not the “rudder,” the ship’s steering device). This was a log of events kept by earlier voyagers who chronicled their encounters with previously unknown and difficult waters. By reading the sailing details in a rutter, captains could avoid hazards and make it through difficult waters.

In many ways, the Christian life is like a voyage, and the believer needs help in navigating life’s perilous seas. We have that help because God has given us His Word as a “spiritual rutter.” Often when we reflect on a meaningful passage, we can recall God’s faithfulness through trying circumstances. As the psalmist suggests, perils are found not only in life situations but also in our inner tendency toward sin. Because of these dual concerns, he wrote, “Direct my steps by Your Word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me” (119:133).

As you reflect on the teaching in the Bible, you’ll be reminded of God’s past care, assured of the Lord’s guidance in trying circumstances, and warned against sinfulness. That’s the advantage of having a “spiritual rutter.”



My Bible is a guidebook true
That points for me the way,
That gives me courage, hope, and cheer
And guidance for each day. —Anon.





With God’s Word as your map and His Spirit as your compass, you’re sure to stay on course.
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  #1023  
Old 05-28-2011, 02:07 AM
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Default May 28

Are You Listening?

May 28, 2011

Read: Numbers 20:1-13

Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water. —Numbers 20:8

He was frustrated. He was angry. He was tired of being blamed for everything that went wrong. Year after year, he had gotten them through one disaster after another. He was continually interceding on their behalf to keep them out of trouble. But all he got for his efforts was more grief. Finally, in exasperation, he said, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” (Num. 20:10).
That suggestion might sound preposterous, but it wasn’t. Forty years earlier, the previous generation had the same complaint: no water. God told Moses to strike a rock with his staff (Ex. 17:6). When he obeyed, water gushed out—plenty of water. When the grumbling started again so many years later, Moses did the thing that worked before. But this time it was the wrong thing to do. What Moses told the Israelites to do—to listen—he himself had not done. God had told him to speak to the rock this time, not strike it.
Sometimes in exhaustion or exasperation, we don’t pay close attention to God. We assume He will always work the same way. But He doesn’t. Sometimes He tells us to act; sometimes He tells us to speak; sometimes He tells us to wait. That is why we must always be careful to listen before we take action.

*
Lord, help us to obey Your Word,
To heed Your still small voice;
And may we not be swayed by men,
But make Your will our choice. —D. De Haan
*
*
Listen—then obey.
*
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  #1024  
Old 05-29-2011, 03:32 AM
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Default May 29

Keeping The Wonder

May 29, 2011

Read: 2 Peter 1:2-11

If these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. —2 Peter 1:8

On a recent trip, my wife was seated near a mother with a young boy on his first flight. As the plane took off, he exclaimed, “Mom, look how high we are! And everything’s getting smaller!” A few minutes later he shouted, “Are those clouds down there? What are they doing under us?” As time passed, other passengers read, dozed, and lowered their window shades to watch the in-flight video. This boy, however, remained glued to the window, absorbed in the wonder of all he was seeing.

For “experienced travelers” in the Christian life, there can be great danger in losing the wonder. The Scriptures that once thrilled us may become more familiar and academic. We may fall into the lethargy of praying with our minds but not our hearts.

Peter urged the early followers of Christ to continue growing in their faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (2 Peter 1:5-7). He said, “If these things are yours and abound [or are increasing], you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.8). Without them we become blind and forget the marvel of being cleansed from our sins (v.9).

May God grant us all grace to keep growing in the wonder of knowing Him.



On such love, my soul, still ponder
Love so great, so rich, so free;
Say, while lost in holy wonder,
“Why, O Lord, such love to me?” —Kent





Continual growing in Christ
comes from a deepening knowledge of Him.
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  #1025  
Old 05-30-2011, 02:36 AM
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Default May 30

Let Honor Meet Honor

May 30, 2011

Read: Matthew 6:1-6

Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. —Matthew 6:1

I’ve always been impressed by the solemn, magnificent simplicity of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. The carefully choreographed event is a moving tribute to soldiers whose names—and sacrifice—are “known but to God.” Equally moving are the private moments of steady pacing when the crowds are gone: back and forth, hour after hour, day by day, in even the worst weather.

In September 2003, Hurricane Isabel was bearing down on Washington, DC, and the guards were told they could seek shelter during the worst of the storm. Surprising almost no one, the guards refused! They unselfishly stood their post to honor their fallen comrades even in the face of a hurricane.

Underlying Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:1-6, I believe, is His desire for us to live with an unrelenting, selfless devotion to Him. The Bible calls us to good deeds and holy living, but these are to be acts of worship and obedience (vv.4-6), not orchestrated acts for self-glorification (v.2). The apostle Paul endorses this whole-life faithfulness when he pleads with us to make our bodies “a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1).

May our private and public moments speak of our devotion and wholehearted commitment to You, Lord.



Grant me the strength this day, O Lord, to persevere,
to return honor to Your name where I am serving.
My desire is to give myself in selfless devotion
because of Your love for me. Amen.





The more we serve Christ, the less we will serve self.
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  #1026  
Old 05-31-2011, 01:51 AM
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Default May 31

Bad Choice

May 31, 2011

Read: Revelation 20:11-15

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. —Daniel 12:2

An elderly TV star was asked by talk-show host Larry King about heaven. King prefaced his question by referring to Billy Graham, who had told King he “knew what would be ahead. It would be paradise. He was going to heaven.”

King then asked his guest, “What do you believe?” He replied, “I’d like a lot of activity. Heaven sounds too placid for me. There’s a lot to do in hell.”

Sadly, this man is not alone in thinking that an existence in Satan’s realm is a preferred destination. I’ve heard people say that they’d rather be in hell because all their friends will be there. One person wrote, “If hell was real, I don’t think it would be bad. There would be a lot of interesting people.”

How can we convince folks who are deceived in this way that hell and its horrors are to be avoided? Perhaps by telling them of the realities of hell that are presented in the Scripture. In Daniel 12:2, it is described as a place of “shame and everlasting contempt.” Luke 16:23 talks about “torments.” Matthew 8:12 describes “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And Revelation 14:11 says there will be “no rest.”

Biblical truth doesn’t allow anyone to think that hell might be a good place to be. Clearly, rejecting Jesus and facing an eternity in Satan’s kingdom is a bad choice.



Don’t choose to spend eternity
Where pain will never dim;
Instead decide to trust in Christ
And choose to follow Him. —Sper





The same Christ who talks about the glories of heaven also describes the horrors of hell.
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  #1027  
Old 06-01-2011, 10:21 AM
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Default Jun. 1

Hidden Sin

June 1, 2011

Read: 1 John 1:5-10

O God, You know my foolishness; and my sins are not hidden from You. —Psalm 69:5

Chuck had slowed to a stop when his car was hit from behind and was pushed into the vehicle ahead of him. A sickening, crunching sound indicated that additional vehicles had collided behind them.

As Chuck sat quietly for a moment, he observed that the vehicle directly behind him was pulling out into traffic. Obviously hoping to avoid an encounter with police, the escaping driver neglected to notice he had left something behind. When the police arrived, an officer picked up the hit-and-run driver’s license plate from the ground and said to Chuck, “Someone will be waiting for him when he arrives home. He won’t get away with this.”

Scripture tells us: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23), as this man who fled the accident discovered. We may sometimes be able to hide our sin from the people around us, but nothing is ever “hidden from [God’s] sight” (Heb. 4:13). He sees each of our failures, thoughts, and motivations (1 Sam. 16:7; Luke 12:2-3).

Believers are given a wonderful promise: “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). So don’t let unconfessed, so-called “hidden” sins come between you and God (vv.6-7).



We cannot hide from God
No matter how we try;
For He knows all we think and do—
We can’t escape His eye. —Hess





Sin may be hidden from others, but never from God.
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  #1028  
Old 06-02-2011, 01:42 AM
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Default Jun. 2

Sonrise!

June 2, 2011

Read: Malachi 4:1-6

The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings. —Malachi 4:2

My state’s name, “Idaho,” according to one legend, comes from a Shoshone Indian word, “ee-dah-how.” When translated into English, it means something like, “Behold! The sun rising over the mountain.” I often think of that when the sun breaks over the eastern peaks and spills light and life into our valley.

Also, I think of Malachi’s promise: “The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” (Mal. 4:2). This is God’s irrevocable promise that our Lord Jesus will come again and all creation “will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).

Each new sunrise is a reminder of that eternal morning when “bright heaven’s Sun” will arise with healing in His wings. Then everything that has been made will be made over and made irrevocably right. There will be no throbbing backs or knees, no financial struggles, no losses, no aging. One Bible version says that when Jesus returns we will “go out and leap like calves released from the stall” (Mal. 4:2 NIV). This is my highest imagination and my hope.

Jesus said, “Surely I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:20). Even so, come, Lord Jesus!



High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all. —Irish hymn





You have reason for optimism if you’re looking for Christ’s return.
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  #1029  
Old 06-03-2011, 01:49 AM
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Default Jun. 3

Two Tales Of One City

June 3, 2011

Read: Nahum 1

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him. —Nahum 1:7

The book of Jonah has the makings of a great movie plot. It contains a runaway prophet, a terrible storm at sea, the prophet swallowed by a great fish, God sparing the prophet’s life, and the repentance of a pagan city.

But Jonah’s sequel—the book of Nahum—might not be so popular. Nahum ministered in Nineveh just as Jonah had, but about 100 years later. This time, the Ninevites had no interest in repentance. Because of this, Nahum condemns Nineveh and proclaims judgment on the people.

To unrepentant Nineveh, the prophet preached: “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked” (Nah. 1:3). But Nahum also had a message of mercy. To comfort the people of Judah, he proclaimed: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him” (v.7).

We see in the stories of Jonah and Nahum that with every new generation comes the necessity of an individual response to God. No one’s spiritual life can be handed off to another; we must each choose to serve the Lord from our own heart. God’s message is as fresh today as it was hundreds of years ago: judgment for the unrepentant but mercy for the repentant. How will you respond?



Your mercy, Lord, how great it is
To overrule our sin!
So help us know Your righteousness
And choose to walk therein. —D. De Haan





God’s judgment is certain, but so is His mercy.
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  #1030  
Old 06-04-2011, 12:59 AM
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Default Jun. 4

Impact For Christ

June 4, 2011

Read: 1 Timothy 4:10-16

Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, . . . in faith, in purity. —1 Timothy 4:12

Over the past several years, I’ve been privileged to travel with teenagers on eight mission trips. One thing I’ve learned in those excursions is that teens are not too young to make an impact for Jesus—either on me or on others whose lives they touch.

I’ve also noticed that the teens who make the biggest impact for Christ match the characteristics Paul told Timothy about in 1 Timothy 4:12. Trying to convince Timothy that his relative youth did not have to be a deterrent to his ministry, Paul told him to “be an example to the believers” in several areas.

In word: Young people who make a difference for Christ control what they say, avoid negative talk, and speak words that honor God. In conduct: Teens who practice discretion in their behavior shine for all the world to see. In love: By taking heed of Jesus’ words to love God and their neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39) teens please Jesus and touch hearts. In faith: Those who put their faith into action change lives. In purity: It’s tough to be morally pure and doctrinally sound, but kids who are can set the bar for the rest of us.

Paul’s words aren’t just for the young generation. All of us should be an example in word, conduct, love, faith, and purity. That’s how we make an impact for Christ.



O Christians, remember, you bear His dear name,
Your lives are for others to view;
You’re living examples—men praise you or blame,
And measure your Savior by you. —Anon.





The most valuable commentary on the Bible is a godly life.
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