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  #1031  
Old 06-05-2011, 03:21 AM
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Default Jun. 5

Inside Out

June 5, 2011

Read: John 15:1-8

You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. —John 15:3

During an international publishing conference, a young Frenchman described his experience at a book- signing event. A woman picked up one of his books, browsed through it, and exclaimed, “At last, a story that’s clean!” He replied gently, “I write clean because I think clean. It’s not an effort.” What he expressed in print came from within, where Christ had altered the very core of his life.

John 15 records Jesus’ lesson to His disciples about abiding in Him as the only means to a fruitful life. In the midst of His imagery of the vine and the branches, Jesus said: “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (v.3). Bible scholar W. E. Vine says that the Greek word for clean means “free from impure admixture, without blemish, spotless.”

A pure heart is the work of Christ, and only in His power can we remain clean. We often fail, but “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to . . . cleanse us from all unright-eousness” (1 John 1:9). Renewal is an inside job.

Jesus has made us clean through His sacrifice and His Word. Our speech and actions that strike others as being fresh and pure flow from inside out as we abide in Christ.



Admitting that we’re guilty,
Acknowledging our sin,
Then trusting in Christ’s sacrifice
Will make us clean within. —Sper





Confession to God brings cleansing from God.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1032  
Old 06-06-2011, 01:42 AM
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Default Jun. 6

Bull Sharks

June 6, 2011

Read: 1 Peter 4:12-19

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you. —1 Peter 4:12

Following a recent lunch discussion, I decided to research the comment that a bull shark attack had once occurred in Lake Michigan. It seemed like such an impossible thought that we all scoffed at the idea of sharks in a freshwater lake so far inland. I found one online site that claimed a bull shark attack did occur in Lake Michigan in 1955, but it was never verified. A shark attack in Lake Michigan? If the story were true, it would definitely be a rare occurrence.

Wouldn’t it be great if hard times were like Lake Michigan bull shark attacks—rare or even untrue? But they aren’t. Hardships and difficulties are common. It’s just that when they happen to us, we think they shouldn’t.

Perhaps that is why the apostle Peter, writing to first-century followers of Christ going through tough times, said, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12). These trials are not abnormal—and once we get past our surprise, we can turn to the Father who ministers deeply to our hearts and in our lives. He has a love that never fails. And in our world filled with trials, that kind of love is desperately needed.



Underneath the restless surface
Of each trial that comes in life
Flows the Savior’s love and power—
They can calm our inner strife. —D. De Haan





By the sunshine of His love,
God paints on our clouds the rainbow of His grace.
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  #1033  
Old 06-07-2011, 01:33 AM
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Default Jun. 7

God Is God

June 7, 2011

Read: Daniel 3:8-30

Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. —Hebrews 11:35

When Polycarp (AD 69-155), who was bishop of the church at Smyrna, was asked by Roman authorities to curse Christ if he wanted to be released, he said, “Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” The Roman officer threatened, “If you do not change your mind, I will have you consumed with fire.” Polycarp remained undaunted. Because he would not curse Christ, he was burned at the stake.

Centuries earlier, when three young men named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego faced a similar threat, they answered, “O Nebuchadnezzar, . . . our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods” (Dan. 3:16-18). A similar experience but two different outcomes. Polycarp was burned alive, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego left the furnace unsinged.

Two different results but the same display of faith. These men showed us that faith in God is not simply faith in what God can do. But it’s the belief that God is God whether He delivers us or not. He has the final say. And it’s our decision to choose to follow Him through it all.



Lord, help us trust You all the time
Regardless of what comes our way,
Accepting from Your goodness that
You always have the final say. —Sper





Life is hard, but God is good—all the time.
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  #1034  
Old 06-08-2011, 01:33 AM
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Default Jun. 8

Good For Nothing

June 8, 2011

Read: Revelation 2:1-7

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. —Revelation 2:4

My wife, Martie, is a great cook. Sitting down after a busy day to enjoy her culinary delights is a real treat. Sometimes after dinner she runs errands, leaving me alone with the choice of grabbing the remote or cleaning up the kitchen. When I’m on my good behavior, I roll up my sleeves, load the dishwasher, and scrub the pots and pans—all for the joy of hearing Martie’s grateful response, which is usually something like, “Wow, Joe! You didn’t have to clean up the kitchen!” Which gives me a chance to say, “I wanted to show you how much I love you!”

When Jesus reproved the church at Ephesus for abandoning their “first love” (Rev. 2:4), it was because they were doing a lot of good things, but not out of love for Him. Although they were praised for their perseverance and patience, from Christ’s point of view, they were being “good” for nothing.

Good behavior should always be an act of worship. Resisting temptation, forgiving, serving, and loving each other are all opportunities to tangibly express our love for Jesus—not to get a star next to our name or a pat on the back.

When was the last time you did something “good” out of love for Jesus?



For many, love is just a word,
A passing phase, a brief emotion;
But love that honors Christ our Lord
Responds to Him with deep devotion. —Hess





Love in deed is love indeed!
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  #1035  
Old 06-09-2011, 02:36 AM
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Default Jun. 9

Stolen Thoughts

June 9, 2011

Read: Psalm 13; Colossians 3:1-4

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? —Psalm 13:1

When my wife and I were traveling in another state, someone broke into our car after we stopped for lunch. With one look at the shattered glass, we realized that we had forgotten to put our GPS (global positioning system) out of sight.

With a quick check of the backseat, I concluded that the thief also got my laptop, passport, and checkbook.

Then came the surprise. Later that evening, after phone calls and hours of growing worries, the unexpected happened. When I opened my suitcase, tucked between my clothes was what I thought I had lost. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Only then did I recall that I had not put the items in the backseat after all. I had stuck them in the suitcase, which had been safely stored in the trunk of our car.

Sometimes, in the emotion of the moment, our minds play tricks on us. We think our loss is worse than it is. We may feel like the songwriter David who, in the confusion of the moment, thought God had forgotten him.

When David later recalled what he knew rather than what he feared, his sense of loss turned into a song of praise (Ps. 13:5-6). His renewed joy foreshadowed what is now ours to recall: Nothing can rob us of what is most important if our life is “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).



When sorrows assail us or terrors draw nigh,
His love will not fail us, He’ll guide with His eye;
And when we are fainting and ready to fail,
He’ll give what is lacking and make us prevail. —Anon.





Rest your assurance on God’s love in your heart—
not on the fear in your mind.
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  #1036  
Old 06-10-2011, 01:28 AM
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Default Jun. 10

Business Card

June 10, 2011

Read: 1 Timothy 1:1,12-17

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ . . . . —1 Timothy 1:1

In some cultures, the title below your name on your business card is very important. It identifies your rank. The way you are treated depends on your title as compared with others around you.

If Paul had a business card, it would have identified him as an “apostle”
(1 Tim. 1:1), meaning “sent one.” He used this title not out of pride but out of wonder. He didn’t earn that position; it was “by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, his was not a human but a divine appointment.

Paul had formerly been a “blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man” (v.13). He said that he considered himself to be the “chief” of sinners (v.15). But because of God’s mercy, he was now an apostle, one to whom “the King eternal” (v.17) had committed the glorious gospel and whom He had sent out to share that gospel.

What is more amazing is that like the apostle Paul we are all sent out by the King of kings to the world (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Let’s recognize with humility that we don’t deserve such a commission either. It is our privilege to represent Him and His eternal truth in word and in deed each day to all around us.



Let us go forth, as called of God,
Redeemed by Jesus’ precious blood;
His love to show, His life to live,
His message speak, His mercy give. —Whittle





God gave you a message to share. Don’t keep it to yourself!
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  #1037  
Old 06-11-2011, 01:21 AM
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Default Jun. 11

A Royal Wedding

June 11, 2011

Read: Revelation 19:1-10

Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. —Revelation 19:7

Weddings have long been an occasion for extravagance. Modern weddings have become a chance for young women to live out the fantasy of being “a princess for a day.” An elegant gown, an elaborate hairstyle, attendants in color-coordinated dresses, bouquets of flowers, an abundance of food, and lots of celebrating with friends and family contribute to the fairytale atmosphere. Many parents start saving early so they can afford the high cost of making their daughter’s dream come true. And royal weddings take extravagance to a level that we “commoners” seldom see. In 1981, however, many of us got a peek at one when the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana was broadcast worldwide.

Another royal wedding is in the planning stages, and it will be more elaborate than any other. But in this wedding, the most important person will be the groom, Christ Himself; and we, the church, will be His bride. John’s revelation says that the bride will make herself ready (19:7) and that our wedding gown will be our righteous acts (v.8).

Though earthly marriages last only a lifetime, every bride works hard to make her wedding perfect. How much more, as the bride of Christ, should we be doing to prepare ourselves for a marriage that will last for eternity.



The church, the bride of Christ, will be
Arrayed in linen, clean and bright,
Through righteous acts that we have done—
Much to our Groom’s delight. —Sper





Good deeds don’t make a Christian,
but a Christian does good deeds.
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  #1038  
Old 06-12-2011, 02:36 AM
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Default Jun. 12

The Great Comeback

June 12, 2011

Read: Acts 2:14-21,37-41

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea . . . heed my words.” —Acts 2:14

We like to read about comebacks—about people or companies who face near disaster and turn things around. The Ford Motor Company is an example of that. In the 1940s, a reluctance by leadership to modernize almost destroyed Ford. In fact, the government nearly took over the company lest its demise threaten the US war effort. But when Henry Ford II was released from his military duties to run the company, things turned around. Ford became one of the biggest corporations in the world.

Occasionally, we need a comeback. We need to correct wrong directions or compensate for wrong decisions. In those times, we have an example in Peter. He had failure written all over him. First, he nearly drowned when his faith faltered (Matt. 14:30). Then he said things that were so wrong Jesus called him “Satan” (16:22-23). And when Jesus needed Peter the most, he denied that he even knew Him (26:74).

But that’s not the end of the story. In the power of the Spirit, Peter made a comeback. On the Day of Pentecost, he preached and 3,000 people came to faith in Christ (Acts 2:14,41). Peter returned to effectiveness because his faith was renewed, he guarded what he said, and he stood up for Jesus.

Struggling? If Peter can come back, so can you.



Today Christ calls, “Come follow Me!”
Do not look back to yesterday;
Fresh grace He’ll give to do His will,
His joy you’ll find as you obey. —D. De Haan





To become whole, yield to the Holy Spirit.
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  #1039  
Old 06-12-2011, 11:48 PM
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Default Jun. 13

Your Spiritual Pipeline

June 13, 2011

Read: Psalm 57

My soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge. —Psalm 57:1

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline stretches 800 miles through Alaska. Because it was built through an earthquake zone, engineers had to be sure the pipe could withstand earth trauma. They decided on a network of Teflon sliders designed to ease the shock when the ground moved below the pipes. Engineers were delighted when the first big test came. In 2002, an earthquake occurred causing the ground to move 18 feet to one side. The Teflon sliders moved gently to accommodate the movement without any damage to the pipe. The key was flexibility.

The believer’s spiritual pipeline to heaven is built upon firm trust in God. But if we are inflexible in our expectations of how God should work, we can run into trouble. In a crisis, we can make the mistake of shifting our focus from God to our painful circumstances. Our prayer should be, “God, I don’t understand why You have allowed this painful situation. But I am trusting in Your ultimate deliverance despite all that’s going on around me.” The psalmist expressed this so well when he wrote: “My soul trusts in You . . . until these calamities have passed by” (Ps. 57:1).

When the earth seems to move under us, let’s be flexible in our expectations but firmly confident in God’s steadfast love and care.



Press forward and fear not! Though trials be near;
The Lord is our refuge; whom then shall we fear?
His staff is our comfort, our safeguard His rod;
Then let us be steadfast and joy in our God. —Anon.





God may delay or deny our request,
but He will never disappoint our trust.
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  #1040  
Old 06-14-2011, 01:40 AM
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Default Jun. 14

Under God

June 14, 2011

Read: Mark 2:23-28

This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. —1 John 5:3

Every parent knows the difference between rules designed primarily for the benefit of the parent and those designed for the benefit of the child. God’s rules fall into the latter category. As Creator of the human race, God knows how human society will work best.

I began to look at the Ten Commandments in this light—as rules designed primarily for our benefit. Jesus underscored this principle when He said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

The Bible is a most realistic book. It assumes human beings will be tempted to lust after a neighbor or covet someone else’s property, to work too hard, to strike out in anger at those who wrong them. It assumes humanity will bring disorder to whatever we touch. Each of the Ten Commandments offers a shield of protection against that disorder. We have the freedom to say no to our sinful inclinations. By doing so, we avoid certain harm.

Taken together, the Ten Commandments weave life on this planet into a more meaningful and structured whole, the benefit of which is to allow us to live as a peaceful, healthy community under God.



When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey. —Sammis





Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! Then I would not be ashamed. —Psalm 119:5-6
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