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  #1081  
Old 07-23-2011, 01:54 AM
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Default Jul. 23

An Amazing View

July 23, 2011

Read: Psalm 33:13-22

From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth. —Psalm 33:14

From my home in Colorado, I recently used Google Maps to “wander around” the neighborhood in Nairobi, Kenya, where my family lived 2 decades ago. A satellite image on my computer screen enabled me to identify roads, landmarks, and buildings. In some cases, I got a street-level view, as if I were standing on the ground there.

It was quite a view, but only a small taste of how the Lord must see our world.

The psalmist celebrated God’s view by writing these words: “The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. . . . He considers all their works. . . . The eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine” (33:13-19).

Unlike an unfeeling satellite, the Lord sees with His heart of love as He considers who we are and what we do. The Bible reveals that He longs for us to trust Him and follow His way. We are never out of God’s sight, and He keeps a close eye on everyone whose hope is in Him.

For all who know the Lord through faith in Jesus Christ, it’s encouraging to realize that every day we’re part of His amazing view.



Beneath His watchful eye
His saints securely dwell;
That hand which bears all nature up
Shall guard His children well. —Doddridge





Keep your eyes on God; He never takes His eyes off you.
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  #1082  
Old 07-24-2011, 02:20 AM
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Default Jul. 24

Stay Close

July 24, 2011

Read: 1 Peter 4:7-11

Comfort each other and edify one another. —1 Thessalonians 5:11

My friend and I were traveling together, and she seemed a bit frazzled. When we got to the airport, she forgot to have her identification readily available and couldn’t find her reservation confirmation number. The ticket agent waited patiently, smiled, and then helped her at the “self” check-in. After receiving her ticket, she asked, “Where do we go next?” The agent smiled again, pointed at me, and said to her, “Stay close to your friend.”

That can be good advice for all of us when our lives get frazzled—stay close to your friends. Although Jesus is our best friend, we also need relationships with fellow believers to help us survive in this life.

In his first epistle, Peter was writing to believers who needed one another because they were suffering for their faith. In a few short sentences in chapter 4, Peter mentioned the need to receive and give “fervent love,” prayer, and hospitality (vv.7-9). He also included the need for believers to use their spiritual gifts to minister to one another (v.10). In other passages, we’re encouraged to comfort each other with the comfort we’ve been given by God (2 Cor. 1:3-4) and to build each other up in love (1 Thess. 5:11).

When life gets difficult and we get frazzled, staying close to our Christian friends will help us to get through.



When our friends encounter trials,
We can help them if we’re near;
Some may need a word of comfort,
Others just a listening ear. —Sper





Staying close to godly friends helps us to stay close to God.
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  #1083  
Old 07-25-2011, 01:49 AM
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Default Jul. 25

The Pleasure Is Mine

July 25, 2011

Read: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure . . . All was vanity and grasping for the wind. —Ecclesiastes 2:10-11

I always look forward to summer. The warm sunshine, baseball, beaches, and barbecues are pleasures that bring joy after a long, cold winter. But pleasure-seeking isn’t just seasonal. Don’t we all enjoy good food, engaging conversation, and a crackling fire?

The desire for pleasure isn’t wrong. God has built us for it. Paul reminds us that God “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17). Other passages welcome us to the healthy pleasure of food, friends, and the intimacy of a marriage relationship. But thinking that we can find lasting pleasure in people and things is ultimately an empty pursuit.

Ultimate pleasure is not found in the short-lived thrills our world offers, but rather in the long-term joy from a deepening intimacy with our Lord. King Solomon learned this the hard way. “I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,” he admitted (Eccl. 2:10). But after his pleasure-seeking spree, he concluded: “All was vanity and grasping for the wind” (v.11). It’s no wonder he warned, “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man” (Prov. 21:17).

What we are really looking for is satisfied only in a fulfilling and growing relationship with Jesus. Pursue Him and taste His delights!



The world is filled with so much good
That brings us joy and pleasure,
But true fulfillment only comes
When Christ we love and treasure. —Sper





Are we living for our own pleasure,
or living to please our heavenly Father?
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  #1084  
Old 07-26-2011, 02:11 AM
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Default Jul. 26

Joy In The Morning

July 26, 2011

Read: Psalm 40:1-5

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. —Psalm 30:5

Angie could not see through the fogged-up windows in her car. Inadvertently, she pulled out in front of a truck. The accident caused such damage to her brain that she could no longer speak or take care of herself.

Over the years, I have been amazed at the resiliency of Angie’s parents. Recently I asked them, “How have you managed to get through this experience?” Her father thoughtfully responded, “In all honesty, the only way we have been able to do this is by drawing close to God. He gives us the strength we need to help us through.”

Angie’s mother agreed and added that around the time of the accident their grieving was so deep that they wondered if they would ever have joy again. As they both leaned upon God, they experienced countless unexpected provisions for the physical and spiritual care of Angie and their entire family. Although Angie may never regain her ability to speak, she now responds to them with wide smiles and this gives them joy. Her parents’ favorite verse continues to be: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5).

Have you experienced extreme sorrow? There is the promise of future joy amid your tears as you lean upon our loving Lord.



New mercies every morning,
Grace for every day,
New hope for every trial,
And courage all the way. —McVeigh





Leave your sorrows with Jesus, the “Man of Sorrows.”
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  #1085  
Old 07-27-2011, 03:08 AM
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Default Jul. 27

Bribery

July 27, 2011

Read: Deuteronomy 10:12-22

Take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning. —Exodus 23:8

While traveling in a foreign country, my husband noticed that the paved roads had deep indentations. When he asked about them, our driver explained that they were caused by the tires of trucks carrying illegal, overweight loads. When stopped by police, the drivers paid bribes to avoid being fined. The truckers and police officers came out ahead financially, but other drivers and taxpayers were left with an unfair financial burden and the inconvenience of poor roads.

Not all bribery is overt; some is more subtle. And not all bribes are financial. Flattery is a type of bribe that uses words as currency. If we give people preferential treatment for saying something nice about us, it’s similar to taking a bribe. To God, any kind of partiality is an injustice. He even made justice a condition of remaining in the Promised Land. The Israelites were not to pervert justice or show partiality (Deut. 16:19-20).

Bribery deprives others of justice, which is an offense against the character of God, who is “God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe” (10:17).

Thankfully, the Lord treats all of us alike, and He wants us to treat each other the same way.



It matters not what race or gender,
Rich or poor or great or small,
The God who made us is not partial;
He sent Christ to die for all. —D. De Haan





Bribery displays partiality; love displays justice.
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  #1086  
Old 07-28-2011, 10:19 AM
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Default Jul. 28

For The God I Love

July 28, 2011

Read: Matthew 6:16-18

When you fast, do not be like the hypocrites. —Matthew 6:16

A couple of years ago in our church we did a sermon series on the Old Testament tabernacle. Leading up to the message on the table of showbread, I did something I had never done before—I fasted from food for several days. I fasted because I wanted to experience the truth that “man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut. 8:3). I wanted to deny myself something I love, food, for the God I love more. As I fasted, I followed Jesus’ teaching about fasting in Matthew 6:16-18.

Jesus gave a negative command: “When you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance” (v.16). Then He gave a positive command about putting oil on your head and washing your face (v.17). The two commands taken together meant that they should not draw attention to themselves. Jesus was teaching that this was a private act of sacrificial worship that should not provide any room for religious pride. Finally, He gave a promise: Your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you (v.18).

Although fasting isn’t required, in giving up something we love, we may have a deeper experience of the God we love. He rewards us with Himself.



Lord, we desire to walk closely with You every day.
Help us to seek You diligently that we might
know You intimately and follow You
obediently. Amen.





Moving away from the table can bring us closer to the Father.
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  #1087  
Old 07-29-2011, 09:34 AM
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Default Jul. 29

The Good Life

July 29, 2011

Read: Micah 6:6-8

It is good for me to draw near to God. —Psalm 73:28

Philosophers ponder, “What is the good life and who has it?” I instantly think of my good friend Roy.

Roy was a gentle, quiet man who sought no recognition, who left the care of his life to his heavenly Father, and who occupied himself solely with his Father’s will. His was a heavenly perspective. As he often reminded me: “We are but sojourners here.”

Roy passed away last fall. At his memorial service, friends reminisced over his influence on their lives. Many spoke of his kindness, selfless giving, humility, and gentle compassion. He was, for many, a visible expression of God’s unconditional love.

After the service, Roy’s son drove to the assisted-living facility where his father lived out his final days. He gathered up his dad’s belongings: two pairs of shoes, a few shirts and pants, and a few odds and ends—the sum of Roy’s earthly goods—and delivered them to a local charity. Roy never had what some would consider the good life, but he was rich toward God in good deeds. George MacDonald wrote, “Which one is the possessor of heaven and earth: He who has a thousand houses, or he who, with no house to call his own, has ten at which his knock arouses instant jubilation?”

Roy’s was the good life after all.



Let us be Christ’s true disciples
Looking to another’s need;
Making stony pathways smoother
By a gentle word or deed. —Thorson





No one can know the good life without God.
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  #1088  
Old 07-30-2011, 03:44 AM
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Default Jul. 30

Jupiter Falling

July 30, 2011

Read: Colossians 1:15-23

In Him all things consist. —Colossians 1:17

One day I bought an inexpensive model of the solar system for my son. Installing it required me to suspend each planet from the ceiling. After bending up and down several times, I was lightheaded and tired. Hours later, we heard a “plink” as Jupiter hit the floor.

Later that night, I thought about how our flimsy replica fell apart, yet Jesus sustains the actual universe. “He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:17). The Lord Jesus holds our world together, maintaining the natural laws that rule the galaxy. Our Creator also upholds “all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3). Jesus is so mighty that He keeps the universe in order simply by commanding it to be so!

As amazing as this is, Jesus is more than a cosmic caretaker. He sustains us too. He “gives life and breath to everything, and He satisfies every need” (Acts 17:25 NLT). While Jesus sometimes provides for us differently than we might expect, our Savior keeps us going whether we are brokenhearted, in need of money, or enduring illness.

Until the day He calls us home, we can trust that the One who keeps Jupiter from falling is the One who holds us up as well.



Awesome is our God and King,
Who upholds the stars above;
We now bow before His throne,
Thanking Him for His great love. —D. De Haan





The God who sustains the universe sustains me.
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  #1089  
Old 07-31-2011, 04:02 AM
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Default Jul. 31

Free 4 All

July 31, 2011

Read: Ephesians 1:7-14;2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. —Ephesians 2:8

In an effort to assist people struggling to provide for their families during tough economic times, the church I attend created a program called “Free 4 All.”

We brought lightly used items to the church and opened the doors to people of the community. They could come and take home anything they needed.

While the day was a huge success as far as the amount of goods people were able to pick up, it was even better for this reason: Six people trusted Jesus Christ as Savior at the event. Indeed, these six new believers took part in the greatest “Free 4 All” of all time—the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.

The items that were taken to the church on this special day had already been purchased. They were then given without cost to all who simply asked for them. Likewise, eternal forgiveness for our sins has already been purchased. Jesus paid that price when He died on a cross on Golgotha’s hill 2,000 years ago (Rom. 3:23-25). He now offers salvation at no cost to all who simply repent and believe that Jesus has the power to forgive and save (Acts 16:31).

Each of us is needy spiritually—and only Jesus can meet that need. Have you accepted what He offers without cost at the world’s biggest “Free 4 All”?



I know by faith in whom I have believed,
I know that God’s free gift I have received,
I know that He will keep me to the end,
My Savior, my Redeemer, and my Friend. —Anon.





Salvation is free, but you must receive it.
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  #1090  
Old 08-01-2011, 02:12 AM
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Default Aug. 1

Doing Good

August 1, 2011

Read: Luke 6:27-36

Jesus of Nazareth . . . went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. —Acts 10:38

Someone once said, “The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.” I like that; it’s a great reminder. In the book of Acts, Luke summarized Jesus’ earthly ministry by saying that He “went about doing good” (10:38).

What does the Bible mean when it tells us to “do good”? Jesus did good by teaching, healing, feeding, and comforting people. Using Jesus as the perfect example, His followers are called to meet the needs of others, including those who hate them: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you” (Matt. 5:44; see also Luke 6:27-35). They are to serve their enemies without expecting anything in return.

Moreover, as opportunity arises, His followers are to do good especially to fellow believers (Gal. 6:10). They are not to let persecution, selfishness, and busyness cause them to forget to do good and to share what they have with others (Heb. 13:16).

To be like our Savior and His early followers, we should ask ourselves each day: “What good thing can I do today in Jesus’ name?” When we do good, we will be offering a sacrifice that pleases God (Heb. 13:16) and that draws people to Him (Matt. 5:16).



From the example of Jesus,
Who went about doing good,
We are to honor our Savior
By helping wherever He would. —Hess





Imitate Jesus—go about doing good.
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