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  #1061  
Old 07-05-2011, 03:01 AM
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Default Jul. 5

He Calls Me Friend

July 5, 2011

Read: John 15:9-17

All things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you . . . that you should go and bear fruit. —John 15:15-16

Someone has defined friendship as “knowing the heart of another and sharing one’s heart with another.” We share our hearts with those we trust, and trust those who care about us. We confide in our friends because we have confidence that they will use the information to help us, not harm us. They in turn confide in us for the same reason.

We often refer to Jesus as our friend because we know that He wants what is best for us. We confide in Him because we trust Him. But have you ever considered that Jesus confides in His people?

Jesus began calling His disciples friends rather than servants because He had entrusted them with everything He had heard from His Father (John 15:15). Jesus trusted the disciples to use the information for the good of His Father’s kingdom.

Although we know that Jesus is our friend, can we say that we are His friends? Do we listen to Him? Or do we only want Him to listen to us? Do we want to know what’s on His heart? Or do we only want to tell Him what’s on ours? To be a friend of Jesus, we need to listen to what He wants us to know and then use the information to bring others into friendship with Him.



Sweet thought! We have a Friend above,
Our weary, faltering steps to guide,
Who follows with His eye of love
The precious child for whom He died. —Anon.





Christ’s friendship calls for our faithfulness.
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  #1062  
Old 07-06-2011, 01:47 AM
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Default Jul. 6

Touch a Life

July 6, 2011

Read: Galatians 6:6-10

Let us not grow weary while doing good. —Galatians 6:9

My friend Dan, who was soon to graduate from high school, was required to make a senior presentation. He had 15 minutes to share how he had made it to the point of graduation and to thank those who had helped him along the way.

I gazed around the room before he started to talk. All kinds of people—young families, teachers, friends, church leaders, and coaches—were in attendance. He began to talk about the ways each person had touched his life. One woman had “been like an aunt and had always been there” for him. A 30-something man “shared Scriptures often and gave counsel.” Another man had “taught him discipline and hard work.” A church friend had “taken him to football practice every day” because his mom couldn’t. A couple had “treated him like he was their own son.” One commonality—they were all just ordinary Christians who had reached out to make a difference in his life.

Paul called it doing “good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). We can help shape another person’s life by showing an interest and taking action. And, as happened with Dan, we can reap a harvest (v.9).

Look around. Is there someone whose life needs your touch?



Lord, grant me a heart of compassion
So burdened for others’ needs
That I will show Your kindness
In attitudes, words, and deeds. —Fitzhugh





Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can,
for all the people you can, while you can.
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  #1063  
Old 07-07-2011, 01:56 AM
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Default Jul. 7

Fusion Man

July 7, 2011

Read: Psalm 55:1-8

So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” —Psalm 55:6

Yves Rossy accomplished something people have dreamed of since the ancient myth of Icarus. He has flown. Known as the “Fusion Man,” Rossy built a set of wings with an engine pack that uses his body as the fuselage of the aircraft, with the wings fused to the back of his heat-resistant suit. His first flight took place near Geneva, Switzerland, in 2004, and he has since had numerous successful flights.

The psalmist David longed to have wings so he could fly away. In a time when he was being pursued by enemies who were seeking to take his life, Israel’s king cried, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” (Ps. 55:6).

Like David, when we’re facing pressure, mistreatment, hardship, or grief, we might wish we could sprout wings and fly away. But Jesus offers a better way. Rather than fleeing our struggles, He invites us to flee to Him. He said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, . . . and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29). Rather than wishing we could fly away and escape life’s problems, we can bring them to Him.

Escape cannot give us rest, but Jesus can.



O give me a spirit of peace, dear Lord,
Midst the storms and tempests that roll,
That I may find rest and quiet within,
A calm buried deep in my soul. —Dawe





God gives us strength to face our problems, not to flee from them.
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  #1064  
Old 07-08-2011, 03:58 AM
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Default Jul. 8

The Power Of A Promise

July 8, 2011

Read: Genesis 2:18-25

For this reason a man shall . . . be joined to his wife. —Matthew 19:5

I wear only two pieces of jewelry: a wedding band on my finger and a small Celtic cross on a chain around my neck. The ring represents my vow to be faithful to Carolyn, my wife, as long as I shall live. The cross reminds me that it is not for her sake alone, but for Jesus’ sake that I do so. He has asked me to be faithful to her until death shall separate us.

A marriage vow is more than a contract that we can break by paying damages. It is a unique vow that is explicitly intended to be binding until death separates us (Matt. 19:6). The words “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health” take into consideration the probability that it will not be easy to keep our vows. Circumstances may change and so may our spouses.

Marriage is hard at best; disagreements and difficult adjustments abound. While no one must live in an abusive and dangerous relationship, accepting the difficulties of poverty, hardship, and disappointment can lead to happiness. A marriage vow is a binding obligation to love, honor, and cherish one another for as long as we shall live because Jesus has asked us to do so. As a friend of mine once put it, “This is the vow that keeps us faithful even when we don’t feel like keeping our vows.”



“For better or for worse,” we pledge,
Through sickness and through strife;
And by the help and grace of God
We’ll keep these vows for life. —D. De Haan





Love is more than a feeling; it’s a commitment.
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  #1065  
Old 07-09-2011, 02:55 AM
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Default Jul. 9

A Family Reunion

July 9, 2011

Read: 1 Thessalonians 2:4-12

We were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. —1 Thessalonians 2:7

For the past 29 years, the annual Celebration of Life reunion in our city has brought together members of a unique family. The festive gathering reunites doctors, nurses, and staff from Colorado Springs’ Memorial Hospital for Children with former patients from its neonatal intensive care unit. Some are infants in strollers while others are young teens. Their parents have come with them to say thank you to those who saved their children’s lives and gave them a second chance. Edward Paik’s article in The Gazette quoted Dr. Bob Kiley’s heartfelt response: “Both professionally and personally, for all the staff, this solidifies why we’re in this job.”

I wonder if in heaven there will be many such times when spiritual caregivers and those they helped as “babes in Christ” will reunite to share stories and give praise to God. The New Testament describes how Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy worked among the young believers in Thessalonica with gentleness, “just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children” (1 Thess. 2:7), and with comfort and encouragement, “as a father does his own children” (v.11).

Helping new believers at a critical stage in their faith is a labor of love that will be cause for great rejoicing at the “family” reunion in heaven.



Friends will be there I have loved long ago,
Joy like a river around me will flow;
Yet, just a smile from my Savior, I know,
Will through the ages be glory for me. —Gabriel





One of heaven’s pleasures will be to share our earthly stories.
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  #1066  
Old 07-10-2011, 02:58 AM
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Default Jul. 10

Trouble Ahead

July 10, 2011

Read: Numbers 13:25–14:9

Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land; . . . the Lord is with us. Do not fear them. —Numbers 14:9

Inevitably, trouble will invade our lives: A bad report from a medical test, the betrayal of a trusted friend, a child who rejects us, or a spouse who leaves us. The list of possibilities is long, but there are only two options: forge ahead on our own, or turn to God.

Flying solo into the face of trouble is not a good idea. It can lead to bad behavior patterns, blaming God, and retreating into defeat. Like the Israelites, we may spin out of control and into despair (Num. 14:1-4).

When the majority of the spies brought a report of intimidating giants and dangers ahead, they used the pronoun “we” seven times with no reference to the Lord (13:31-33). The Israelites were on the cusp of the ultimate blessing that God promised to them. They were eyewitnesses to the miracles in Egypt and their feet had walked the dry bottom of the Red Sea in jaw-dropping victory. God’s faithfulness had been amazingly evident. What short memories! What disappointing faithlessness! Sadly, they turned their backs on God and left the blessing behind.

Caleb and Joshua, on the other hand, opted to turn to the Lord with this confidence: “The Lord is with us” (14:9). When your giants show up, what will you do?



In this world of sin and trouble
Where so many ills are known,
If I shun the ways of evil,
I am kept by Him alone. —Smith





God’s presence is a life preserver that keeps
the soul from sinking in a sea of trouble.
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  #1067  
Old 07-11-2011, 02:30 AM
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Default Jul. 11

Occupational Hazard

July 11, 2011

Read: Philippians 1:12-18

The things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel. —Philippians 1:12

My occupation is words. Whether I am writing or editing, I am using words to convey ideas so that readers can understand. I can usually see what’s wrong with someone else’s writing (though sometimes not with my own) and figure out how to fix it.

As an editor, I am paid for being critical. My job is to see what’s wrong with the way words are used. This ability becomes a disability when I carry it over into my personal life and always look for what is wrong. Focusing on what’s wrong can cause us to miss everything that’s good.

The apostle Paul had reason to focus on what was wrong in the Philippian church. Certain people were preaching the gospel out of selfish ambition to add to Paul’s suffering (Phil. 1:16). But instead of concentrating on the negative, he chose to look at the positive and rejoice in it: Jesus Christ was being preached (v.18).

God wants us to be discerning—we need to know good from bad—but He doesn’t want us to focus on the bad and become critical or discouraged. Even in circumstances that are less than ideal (Paul was writing from prison), we can find something good because in times of trouble God is still at work.



The eyes of faith when fixed on Christ
Give hope for what’s ahead,
But focus on life’s obstacles
And faith gives way to dread. —D. De Haan





When your outlook is blurred by problems, focus on Christ.
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  #1068  
Old 07-12-2011, 01:13 AM
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Default Jul. 12

Old School

July 12, 2011

Read: 1 Timothy 2:8-10;

I desire . . . that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel. —1 Timothy 2:8-9

As we hurtle through the first part of this new century, we see an increase in people questioning time-honored standards. This was plainly detailed recently by a teen pop star—a girl who professes faith in Jesus.

While discussing standards for modesty in how she dresses, she discounted criticism of her skimpy clothing by saying, “That’s so old school.”

This young woman is both right and wrong. In a sense, she’s right. The standards of dress for Christians are “old school.” They were written down more than 2,000 years ago. But her attitude that suggests ancient standards can be set aside is wrong. In the truest sense, the principles in the Bible are not “old” as much as they are timeless. While written ages ago, they are still fresh and applicable.

As to the question of modesty, when the Bible says women should “adorn themselves in modest apparel” (1 Tim. 2:9), it is still true today that we shouldn’t dress to draw attention to ourselves. A more general principle, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed” (Rom. 12:2), is a 2011 command that can guide the question of how we dress.

So whether you’re a pop star or a pew sitter, don’t worry about being “old school” if what you are doing is done according to the Book.



Dear Lord, help us to follow the timeless
standards of the Bible in speech, clothing,
and other lifestyle matters. May all
we say and do bring glory to You. Amen.





Do my choices bring glory to God or draw attention to me?
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  #1069  
Old 07-13-2011, 01:08 AM
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Default Jul. 13

Paul, The Aged

July 13, 2011

Read: Philemon 1:1-9

Being such a one as Paul, the aged, . . . I appeal to you for my son Onesimus. —Philemon 1:9-10

Celebrating my 60th birthday really changed my perspective on life— I used to think people in their sixties were “old.” Then I started counting the number of productive years I might have left and set the number at 10. I went along with this dead-end kind of thinking until I remembered a very productive co-worker who was 85. So I sought him out to ask what life after 60 was like. He told me of some of the wonderful ministry opportunities the Lord had given him over the last 25 years.

The apostle Paul, referring to himself as “aged” in Philemon 1:9, really resonates with my own sense of aging: “Being such a one as Paul, the aged, . . . I appeal to you for my son Onesimus” (vv.9-10). Paul was asking Philemon to take back his runaway servant Onesimus. Some scholars believe Paul was in his late forties or early fifties when he wrote this—certainly not a senior citizen by today’s standards. But life expectancy in those days was much shorter. Yet despite awareness of his mature years, Paul went on to serve the Lord for several more years.

While we may experience physical or other kinds of limitations, what really matters is that we continue doing what we can for the Lord until He calls us Home.



Think not your work of no account
Although it may be small;
The Lord marks well your faithfulness
When you give Him your all. —D. De Haan





God can use you at any age—if you are willing.
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  #1070  
Old 07-14-2011, 02:29 AM
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Default Jul. 14

Seeing The Person Inside

July 14, 2011

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:12-21

From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. —2 Corinthians 5:16

On February 1, 1960, four students from an all-black college sat down at a “whites only” lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. One of them, Franklin McCain, noticed an older white woman seated nearby looking at them. He was sure that her thoughts were unkind toward them and their protest against segregation. A few minutes later she walked over to them, put her hands on their shoulders, and said, “Boys, I am so proud of you.”

Recalling the event years later on National Public Radio, McCain said he learned from this never to stereotype anyone. Instead he should pause to consider others and seek an opportunity to talk with them.

The first-century church, like ours today, was often fractured by divisions based on race, language, and culture. Paul wrote to the followers of Jesus in Corinth to help them respond to those who were more concerned with outward appearance than with what is in the heart (2 Cor. 5:12). Because Christ died for all, Paul said, “From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh” (v.16).

May we all look closely to see the person inside, for everyone is made in the image of God and can become a new creation in Christ.



First impressions can mislead us
For we do not know the heart;
We can often be mistaken
Since we only know in part. —Fitzhugh





It’s what’s in the heart that matters.
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