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  #1041  
Old 06-15-2011, 12:58 AM
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Default Jun. 15

Do I Have To Read Leviticus?

June 15, 2011

Read: Isaiah 55:6-13

My Word . . . shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please. —Isaiah 55:11

Do I really have to read Leviticus?” A young executive asked me this in earnest as we talked about the value of spending time in reading the Bible. “The Old Testament seems so boring and difficult,” he said.

Many Christians feel this way. The answer, of course, is that the Old Testament, including Leviticus, offers background and even contrasts essential to grasping the New Testament. While Isaiah challenges us to seek God (55:6), he also promises us that God’s Word accomplishes what the Lord wants it to accomplish (v.11). Scripture is alive and powerful (Heb. 4:12), and it is useful to teach, correct, and instruct us (2 Tim. 3:16). God’s Word never returns void (Isa. 55:8-11), but sometimes it is not until later that God’s words come to mind as we need them.

The Holy Spirit uses the truths we’ve stored from reading or memorization, and He helps us to apply them at just the right time. For example, Leviticus 19:10-11 speaks of business competition and even caring for the poor. The Spirit can remind us of these concepts, and we can use them, if we’ve spent time reading and contemplating that passage.

Reading the Bible turns our minds into storehouses through which the Spirit can work. That’s a great reason to read Leviticus and the other 65 books as well.



Lord, I want to learn to love Your Word more and more.
Teach me and help me to hide it in my heart
so that I can live it, be encouraged by it, and
help others to know it too. Amen.





To understand the Word of God, rely on the Spirit of God.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1042  
Old 06-16-2011, 12:17 AM
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Default Jun. 16

Rescued

June 16, 2011

Read: Colossians 1:3-18

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. —Colossians 1:13

In the aftermath of Haiti’s devastat- ing earthquake in January 2010, the scenes of destruction and death were often punctuated by someone being pulled alive from the rubble, even after all hope seemed gone. Relief and tears of joy were followed by deep gratitude toward those who worked around the clock, often risking their own lives to give someone else another chance to live.

How would you feel if it happened to you? Have you ever been rescued?

In Colossians 1, Paul wrote to people who had come to know Jesus Christ and whose lives showed evidence of their faith. After assuring them of his prayers for them to know God’s will and to please Him, Paul used a powerful word picture to describe what God had done for them all: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (vv.13-14).

In Christ, we have been rescued! He has taken us from danger to safety; from one power and destiny to another; from death to life.

It’s worth pondering all that being rescued means to us, as we thank God for His grace and power.



Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found; Was blind, but now I see. —Newton





Those who’ve been rescued from sin
are best able to help in the rescue of others.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1043  
Old 06-17-2011, 12:20 AM
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Default Jun. 17

True Wealth

June 17, 2011

Read: 1 Timothy 6:6-19

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God. —1 Timothy 6:17

Money is a powerful force. We work for it, save it, spend it, use it to satisfy our earthside longings, and then wish we had more. Aware of its distracting danger, Jesus taught more about money than any other topic. And, as far as we know, He never took an offering for Himself. Clearly, He didn’t teach about giving to fill His own pockets. Instead, Jesus warned us that trusting in wealth and using it to gain power clogs our spiritual arteries more readily than most other impediments to spiritual development. In telling the story of the “rich fool,” He shamed His listeners for not being rich toward God (Luke 12:13-21), indicating that God has a far different definition of wealth than most of us.

So, what does it mean to be rich toward God? Paul tells us that those who are rich should not be conceited about their wealth, “nor to trust in uncertain riches” (1 Tim. 6:17). Rather, we are to “be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (v.18).

Interesting! God measures wealth by the quality of our lives and our generous disbursement of wealth to bless others. Not exactly Wall Street insider talk, but great advice for those of us who think that our security and reputation are tied up in the size of our bank account.



If we’ve been blessed with riches,
We must be rich in deeds;
God wants us to be generous
In meeting others’ needs. —Sper





Riches are a blessing only to those
who make them a blessing to others.
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  #1044  
Old 06-18-2011, 04:13 AM
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Default Jun. 18

Getting Focused

June 18, 2011

Read: Philippians 3:8-16

Forgetting those things which are behind . . . , I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 3:13-14

I enjoy playing golf, so I occasionally watch instructional videos. One such video, however, left me disappointed. The teacher presented a golf swing that had at least 8 steps and a dozen sub-points under each step. That was just too much information!
While I’m not a great golfer, years of playing have taught me this: The more thoughts you have in your head as you swing, the less likely you are to be successful. You must simplify your thought process and focus on what matters most—making solid contact with the ball. The instructor’s many points got in the way.
In golf and in life, we must focus on what matters most.
In Philippians 3, Paul describes how that relates to the Christian. Rather than being distracted by lesser things, he wanted to focus on what mattered most. He said, “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (vv.13-14).
“One thing I do.” In a world of distractions, it’s vital for the child of God to stay focused, and there is no better point of focus in the universe than Jesus Christ Himself. Is He what matters most to you?

*
Lord, my focus is too easily distracted from You
on to lesser things. Please draw me back to Your ways
and teach me what’s most important.
May I learn to always put You first. Amen.
*
*
We live most effectively for Christ when we keep our eyes on Him.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1045  
Old 06-19-2011, 03:21 AM
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Default Jun. 19

Dad’s Hat

June 19, 2011

Read: Ephesians 6:1-4

Honor your father. —Ephesians 6:2

Amid the celebration, there was tragedy. It was the opening ceremonies of the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona. One by one the teams entered the stadium and paraded around the track to the cheers of 65,000 people. But in one section of Olympic Stadium, shock and sadness fell as Peter Karnaugh, father of United States swimmer Ron Karnaugh, was stricken with a fatal heart attack.
Five days later, Ron showed up for his race wearing his dad’s hat, which he carefully set aside before his competition began. Why the hat? It was the swimmer’s tribute to his dad, whom he described as “my best friend.” The hat was one his dad had worn when they went fishing and did other things together. Wearing the hat was Ron’s way of honoring his dad for standing beside him, encouraging him, and guiding him. When Ron dove into the water, he did so without his dad’s presence but inspired by his memory.
On this Father’s Day, there are many ways to honor our fathers, as Scripture commands us to do (Eph. 6:2). One way, even if they’re no longer with us, is to show respect for the good values they taught us.
What can you do for your dad today to show him the kind of honor the Bible talks about?

*
We’re thankful for our fathers, Lord,
They’re special gifts from You;
Help us to show we honor them
By what we say and do. —Sper
*
*
The best fathers not only give us life— they teach us how to live.
*
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  #1046  
Old 06-20-2011, 02:36 AM
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Default Jun. 20

In Brief

June 20, 2011

Read: Psalm 117

His merciful kindness is great toward us. —Psalm 117:2

I counted once and discovered that Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address contains fewer than 300 words. This means, among other things, that words don’t have to be many to be memorable.
That’s one reason I like Psalm 117. Brevity is its hallmark. The psalmist said all he had to say in 30 words (actually just 17 words in the Hebrew text).
Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! For His merciful kindness [love] is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord [faithfulness] endures forever. Praise the Lord!
Ah, that’s the good news! Contained in this hallelujah psalm is a message to all nations of the world that God’s “merciful kindness”—His covenant love—is “great toward us” (v.2).
Think about what God’s love means. God loved us before we were born; He will love us after we die. Not one thing can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:39). His heart is an inexhaustible and irrepressible fountain of love!
As I read this brief psalm of praise to God, I can think of no greater encouragement for our journey than its reminder of God’s merciful kindness. Praise the Lord!

*
Let us celebrate together,
Lift our voice in one accord,
Singing of God’s grace and mercy
And the goodness of the Lord. —Sper
*
*
What we know about God should lead us
to give joyful praise to Him.
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  #1047  
Old 06-21-2011, 02:11 PM
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Default Jun. 21

Unexpected Blessing

June 21, 2011

Read: Ruth 2:11-23

Your daughter-in-law, who loves you, . . . is better to you than seven sons. —Ruth 4:15

Naomi and Ruth came together in less-than-ideal circumstances. To escape a famine in Israel, Naomi’s family moved to Moab. While living there, her two sons married Moabite women: Orpah and Ruth. Then Naomi’s husband and sons died. In that culture, women were dependent on men, which left the three widows in a predicament.
Word came to Naomi that the famine in Israel had ended, so she decided to make the long trek home. Orpah and Ruth started to go with her, but Naomi urged them to return home, saying, “The hand of the Lord has gone out against me!” (1:13).
Orpah went home, but Ruth continued, affirming her belief in Naomi’s God despite Naomi’s own fragile faith (1:15-18).
The story started in desperately unpleasant circumstances: famine, death, and despair (1:1-5). It changed direction due to undeserved kindnesses: Ruth to Naomi (1:16-17; 2:11-12) and Boaz to Ruth (2:13-14).
It involved unlikely people: two widows (an aging Jew and a young Gentile) and Boaz, the son of a prostitute (Josh. 2:1; Matt. 1:5).
It depended on unexplainable intervention: Ruth just so “happened” to glean in the field of Boaz (2:3).
And it ended in unimaginable blessing: a baby who would be in the lineage of the Messiah (4:16-17).
God makes miracles out of what seems insignificant: fragile faith, a little kindness, and ordinary people.

*
*
*
*
In all the setbacks of your life as a believer,
God is plotting for your joy. —John Piper
*
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  #1048  
Old 06-22-2011, 03:35 AM
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Default Jun. 22

Facing Our Fears

June 22, 2011

Read: Judges 6:11-23

The Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” —Judges 6:12

A mother asked her 5-year-old son to go to the pantry to get her a can of tomato soup. But he refused and protested, “It’s dark in there.” Mom assured Johnny, “It’s okay. Don’t be afraid. Jesus is in there.” So Johnny opened the door slowly and seeing that it was dark, shouted, “Jesus, can you hand me a can of tomato soup?”
This humorous story of Johnny’s fear reminds me of Gideon. The Lord appeared to Gideon, calling him a “mighty man of valor” (Judg. 6:12) and then telling him to deliver Israel out of Midian’s hand (v.14). But Gideon’s fearful reply was, “My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (v.15). Even after the Lord told Gideon that with His help he would defeat the Midianites (v.16), he was still afraid. Then Gideon asked the Lord for signs to confirm God’s will and empowerment (vv.17,36-40). So, why did the Lord address fearful Gideon as a “mighty man of valor”? Because of who Gideon would one day become with the Lord’s help.
We too may doubt our own abilities and potential. But let us never doubt what God can do with us when we trust and obey Him. Gideon’s God is the same God who will help us accomplish all that He asks us to do.

*
The Lord provides the strength we need
To follow and obey His will;
So we don’t need to be afraid
That what He asks we can’t fulfill. —Sper
*
*
We can face any fear when we know the Lord is with us.
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  #1049  
Old 06-23-2011, 02:44 AM
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Default Jun. 23

Radical And Upside-Down

June 23, 2011

Read: Luke 14:7-14

There are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last. —Luke 13:30

The values of the kingdom that Jesus came to establish were radically different than those of His day. The Pharisees and teachers of the law clamored for the spotlight and sought the adulation of the crowds. Many of us still do this today.
In Luke 14, Jesus told a parable that taught His followers not to be like that. The parable talks about people who chose the most honored seat for themselves at a wedding feast (vv.7-8). He said they would be embarrassed when the host asked them publicly to take their rightful place (v.9). Jesus went on in His story to talk about whom to invite to such dinners. He said they shouldn’t invite friends and family, but “when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you” (vv.13-14).
Disappointed because you have not broken into the more elite group in your church or neighborhood? Stuck down on rung two when you’d rather be on rung eight or at least climbing the social ladder? Listen to what Jesus said: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (v.11). That’s the radical and upside-down way of God’s kingdom!

*
Blessed Savior, make me humble,
Take away my sinful pride;
In myself I’m sure to stumble,
Help me stay close by Your side. —D. De Haan
*
*
In Christ’s kingdom, humility trumps pride every time.
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  #1050  
Old 06-24-2011, 12:54 AM
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Default Jun. 24

Because

June 24, 2011

Read: Job 2

Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? —Job 2:10

One day, my toddler exclaimed, “I love you, Mom!” I was curious about what makes a 3-year-old tick, so I asked him why he loved me. He answered, “Because you play cars with me.” When I asked if there was any other reason, he said, “Nope. That’s it.” My toddler’s response made me smile. But it also made me think about the way I relate to God. Do I love and trust Him just because of what He does for me? What about when the blessings disappear?
Job had to answer these questions when catastrophes claimed his children and demolished his entire estate. His wife advised him: “Curse God and die!” (2:9). Instead, Job asked, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (v.10). Yes, Job struggled after his tragedy—he became angry with his friends and questioned the Almighty. Still, he vowed, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (13:15).
Job’s affection for his heavenly Father didn’t depend on a tidy solution to his problems. Rather, he loved and trusted God because of all that He is. Job said, “God is wise in heart and mighty in strength” (9:4).
Our love for God must not be based solely on His blessings but because of who He is.

*
Shall we accept the good from God
But fuss when trials are in sight?
Not if our love is focused on
The One who always does what’s right. —Sper
*
*
Focusing on the character of God
helps us to take our eyes off our circumstances.
*
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-Colossians 3:23

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