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  #1071  
Old 07-15-2011, 01:54 AM
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Default Jul. 15

O. B. Markers

July 15, 2011

Read: Jeremiah 5:21-31

I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. —Psalm 119:75

In the game of golf, out-of-bounds or O. B. markers designate when a ball has gone out of play. If a player’s ball goes out-of-bounds, a one-stroke penalty is imposed.

The prophet Jeremiah warned the southern kingdom of Judah about their persistent rejection of God’s boundaries for them. He said that even the sea knows that the sand on the seashore is its O. B. marker, “an everlasting barrier it cannot cross” (Jer. 5:22 NIV). Yet, the Lord’s people had defiant and rebellious hearts (v.23). There was no fear of God, who gave them rain for their crops (v.24). They grew rich on deceit (v.27) and ignored the pleas of the disadvantaged (v.28).

God has given moral boundaries in His Word for us to live within. He gave them not to frustrate us but so that by keeping within them we may enjoy His blessings. David wrote: “I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right” (Ps. 119:75). God told Israel through Moses, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life” (Deut. 30:19).

Don’t test God’s boundaries and invite His correction. Make wise choices to live within His O. B. markers in His Word.



The Lord has given us commands,
And told us to obey;
Our own designs are sure to fail,
If we neglect His way! —Bosch





A small step of obedience is a giant step to blessing.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1072  
Old 07-16-2011, 02:16 AM
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Default Jul. 16

Empty Me

July 16, 2011

Read: Ephesians 4:17-32

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. —Luke 6:45

“What a rotten design,” I grumbled, as I emptied our paper shredder. I was following good advice about shredding personal documents, but I could not empty the container without spilling strips of confetti all over the carpet! One day as I was gathering trash, I debated whether I’d even bother since it was only half-full. But when I slipped a small plastic bag over the top and flipped it upside down, I was pleased to see that not a bit of paper had fallen on the floor.

The error had been mine. I had been waiting until the container was filled to the brim before emptying it!

When we allow sin to fill up our hearts, it too will overflow into our life. Luke 6:45 says that “an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.” It is “out of the abundance of the heart” that we speak.

What if we were to empty our hearts of the rubbish of sin before it started spilling into our interactions with others? To dispose of our bitterness, stubborn pride, seething anger? (Eph. 4:26-32). First John 1:9 reminds us that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

A paper shredder is designed to be a rubbish receptacle. You and I are not!



Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free. —Orr





Own up to your sin—you can’t hide it from God anyway!
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  #1073  
Old 07-17-2011, 02:28 AM
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Default Jul. 17

Perfect Fit

July 17, 2011

Read: Exodus 26:1-11

[Christ], in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. —Ephesians 2:21

Too long. Too short. Too big. Too small. Too tight. Too loose. These words describe most of the clothes I try on. Finding the perfect fit seems impossible.

Finding a church that is a “perfect fit” poses similar problems. Every church has something that’s not quite right. Our gifts aren’t recognized. Our talents aren’t appreciated. Our sense of humor is misunderstood. Certain attitudes, beliefs, people, or programs make us uncomfortable. We feel as if we don’t fit. We struggle to find our place.

We know, however, that God wants us to fit together with one another. The apostle Paul said we are being “built together to become a dwelling in which God lives” (Eph. 2:22 NIV).

The believers in the church today, like the tabernacle in the days of Moses (Ex. 26) and the temple in the days of Solomon (1 Kings 6:1-14), are the dwelling place of God on earth. God wants us to fit together—for there to be no divisions in His church. This means that we, the building blocks, are to be “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).

No church will be a perfect fit, but we can all work at fitting together more perfectly.



For Further Study
Check out the online resource The Church We Need
for help in learning to get along with brothers and
sisters in Christ. See www.discoveryseries.org/q0904





Christ’s love creates unity in the midst of diversity.
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  #1074  
Old 07-18-2011, 10:04 AM
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Default Jul. 18

Sticks And Stones

July 18, 2011

Read: Psalm 123

Our soul is exceedingly filled with . . . the contempt of the proud. —Psalm 123:4

The psalmist was fed up with “the contempt of the proud” (Ps. 123:4). Perhaps you are too. People in your neighborhood, office, or classroom may be scornful of your faith and determination to follow Jesus. Sticks and stones do break our bones, but words can wound more deeply. In his commentary on this psalm, Derek Kidner refers to contempt as “cold steel.”

We can fend off the jeers of the proud by becoming like them, or we can view their attempt to humiliate us as a badge of honor. We can rejoice that we’ve been “counted worthy to suffer shame for [Jesus’] name” (Acts 5:41). Better to bear shame for a short time than to endure “everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:2).

We must not be like the mockers by mocking them in turn, but bless those who persecute us. “Bless and do not curse,” Paul reminds us (Rom. 12:14). Then God may draw them to faith and repentance, and turn our moments of shame into eternal glory.

Finally, as the psalmist counsels us, we must “look to the Lord our God” (123:2). He understands as no other, for He too has endured reproach. He will show compassion to us according to His infinite mercy.



When persecution comes your way
And people mock your Lord,
Remember what’s in store for those
Who love and trust His Word. —Sper





When others’ treatment of you gets you down, look up to Jesus.
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  #1075  
Old 07-19-2011, 02:32 AM
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Default Jul. 19

Fear Factor

July 19, 2011

Read: Genesis 20:1-13

Abraham said, “. . . surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife.” —Genesis 20:11

If you’re a fan of Shakespeare, you know that his heroes always have a serious character flaw. It makes for a good story and teaches some important lessons. The same is true of our Bible hero Abraham. His flaw? Fear.

Twice Abraham succumbed to his fear that a ruler would kill him and steal his wife (Gen. 12:11-20; 20:2-13). Fearing for his life, he deceived both Pharaoh and King Abimelech by saying, “She is my sister”—in essence welcoming the king to take Sarah into his harem (20:2). With fear dictating his actions, he put at risk God’s plan that through him and Sarah a great nation would arise (12:1-3).

But before we judge Abraham, we should ask ourselves a few questions. For fear of losing our job, would we compromise our integrity? For fear of appearing old-fashioned, would we set aside our values? For fear of being ridiculed or misunderstood, would we neglect sharing the gospel and put someone’s eternity at risk? Only one thing will conquer our fears: tenacious faith in God’s presence, protection, power, and promises.

If your fear is putting God’s wonderful plans for you at risk, remember that He will never ask you to do anything He can’t bring to completion, even if it requires miraculous intervention on His part.



It often helps in time of trial
When fearful and alone,
To know that every doubt we feel
The greatest saints have known. —D. De Haan





Let your faith overcome your fear,
and God will turn your worry into worship.
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  #1076  
Old 07-20-2011, 12:40 AM
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Default Jul. 20

Bedlam

July 20, 2011

Read: Romans 12:9-21

Those who leave the paths of uprightness . . . rejoice in doing evil, and delight in the perversity of the wicked. —Proverbs 2:13-14

England’s Imperial War Museum is housed in a building in London that was a former location of the Bethlem Royal Hospital, a care center for the mentally ill. The hospital was commonly known as “Bedlam,” which gradually became a term used to describe scenes of chaos and madness.

It’s ironic that the War Museum would occupy Bedlam’s former location. As you walk through the museum, in addition to stories of heroism and sacrifice in wartime, you also find bone-chilling accounts of the madness of man’s inhumanity to man. From the exhibits about modern genocide and ethnic cleansing to the one on the Holocaust, it is evil on display.

Solomon observed mankind’s propensity for evil, describing it as those who “rejoice in doing evil, and delight in the perversity of the wicked” (Prov. 2:14). While this may describe much of the world around us, followers of Jesus have a refreshingly different way to handle life. Paul challenged us: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). Christ-centered actions such as living morally (v.17), making peace (v.18), and treating our enemies with care (v.20) will affect the world for good.

If each of us were to live as a reflection of God’s love, perhaps there would be a lot less bedlam.



The godless and sinful everywhere
Are objects of God’s love and care,
But they will always know hopeless despair
Unless His love with them we share. —D. De Haan





A despairing world needs caring Christians.
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  #1077  
Old 07-21-2011, 12:28 AM
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Default Jul. 21

Pain No More

July 21, 2011

Read: 1 Corinthians 15:51-57

O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? —1 Corinthians 15:55

For a good portion of my life, I shared the perspective of those who rail against God for allowing pain. I could find no way to rationalize a world as toxic as this one.

As I visited people whose pain far exceeded my own, though, I was surprised by its effects. Suffering seemed as likely to reinforce faith as to sow doubt.

My anger about pain has melted mostly for one reason: I have come to know God. He has given me joy and love and happiness and goodness. It leaves me with faith in a Person, a faith so solid that no amount of suffering can erode it.

Where is God when it hurts? He has been there from the beginning. He designed a pain system that, in the midst of a fallen world, bears His stamp. He transforms pain, using it to teach and strengthen us if we allow it to turn us toward Him.

He has hurt and bled and cried and suffered. He has dignified for all time those who suffer, by sharing their pain. But one day He will gather the armies of heaven and will unleash them against the enemies of God. The world will see one last terrifying moment of suffering before the full victory is ushered in. Then God will create for us a new, incredible world. And pain will be no more (Rev. 19:11–22:6).



He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace!
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race. —Wesley





Pain will either turn us against God or draw us to Him.
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  #1078  
Old 07-22-2011, 01:39 AM
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Default Jul. 22

Our Best Defense

July 22, 2011

Read: John 9:13-25

Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see. —John 9:25

Thrown together as seatmates for an 8-hour train ride, a retired US ambassador and I quickly clashed as he sighed when I pulled out my Bible.

I took the bait. At first, we traded one-liners aimed at goading the other or scoring points. Gradually, though, bits and pieces of our respective life stories started creeping into the discussion. Curiosity got the better of both of us and we found ourselves asking questions instead of feuding. A political science major in college and a political junkie by hobby, I was intrigued with his career, which included two prominent ambassadorships.

Strangely enough, his questions to me were about my faith. How I became “a believer” was what interested him most. The train ride ended amicably, and we even traded business cards. As he left the train, he turned to me and said, “By the way, the best part of your argument isn’t what you think Jesus can do for me. It’s what He’s done for you.”

In John 9, as on that train, God reminds us that the best story is the one we know intimately: Our own encounter with Jesus Christ. Practice telling your story of faith to loved ones and close friends so you’ll be able to tell it clearly to others.



You may be tempted to debate
To change another’s view,
But nothing speaks more powerfully
Than what Christ did in you. —Sper





People know true faith stories when they hear them.
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  #1079  
Old 07-22-2011, 11:45 AM
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I know that my own story is the best witness, but I really need to take this one to heart. Great devotional.

Thanks as always Cory for taking the time to post these.
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James 1:16-17 ESV
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights
With God's help...Mens sana in corpore sano
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  #1080  
Old 07-22-2011, 12:33 PM
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I find myself debating others too often, this devotional put it all into perspective.
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