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  #1101  
Old 08-12-2011, 03:40 AM
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Default Aug. 12

A New Purpose

August 12, 2011

Read: Acts 9:1-9

I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. —Jeremiah 29:11

A 60-year-old hotel in Kansas is being renovated into apartments. A rusty ship that is docked in Philadelphia is being restored and may become a hotel or a museum. Hangar 61, an admired piece of architecture at the old Stapleton Airport in Colorado, is being transformed into a church. Each structure had a specific use that is no longer viable. Yet someone was able to see promise and a new purpose in each one.
If structures can find new life and purpose, why not people? Think about these men in the Bible whose lives took an unexpected direction. There was Jacob, who wrestled with the angel of the Lord (Gen. 32); Moses, who talked to a burning bush (Ex. 3); Paul, who was temporarily blinded (Acts 9). Their stories were different, but all had a change of purpose when their encounter with God sent them down a new path.
We too may experience circumstances that change the course of our lives. But God reminds us of this: I loved you before you loved Me. I want to give you hope and a future. Give all your worries to Me because I care about you (1 John 4:19; Jer. 29:11; 1 Peter 5:7; John 10:10).
As you cling to God’s promises, ask Him to reveal new direction and purpose for your life.

*
God has a purpose for your life,
So what you have to do
Is follow Him, believing that
He’ll keep directing you. —Sper
*
*
Keep your eyes on the Lord
and you won’t lose sight of life’s purpose.
*
__________________
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men"
-Colossians 3:23

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  #1102  
Old 08-13-2011, 04:24 AM
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Default Aug. 13

Master Craftsman

August 13, 2011

Read: Jeremiah 18:1-10

The vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter. —Jeremiah 18:4

When my wife and I were engaged, her dad gave us a special wedding present. As a watchmaker and jeweler, he made our wedding rings. To make my wedding band, Jim used gold scraps left over from resizing other rings—scraps that were seemingly without much value. But in the hands of this craftsman, those pieces became a thing of beauty that I cherish to this day. It is amazing what a master craftsman can do with what others might view as useless.
That is also how God works in our lives. He is the greatest Master Craftsman of all, taking the wasted pieces and broken shards of our lives and restoring them to worth and meaning. The prophet Jeremiah described this when he compared God’s work to that of a potter working clay: “The vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make” (Jer. 18:4).
No matter what messes we have made of our lives, God can remold us into vessels that are good in His eyes. As we confess any sin and submit ourselves in obedience to His Word, we allow the Master to do His redemptive work in our lives (2 Tim. 2:21). That is the only way for the pieces of our brokenness to be made whole and good once again.

*
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay;
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still. —Pollard
*
*
Broken things can become blessed things
if you let God do the mending.
__________________
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1103  
Old 08-14-2011, 04:06 AM
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Default Aug. 14

Is God Obligated?

August 14, 2011

Read: Jeremiah 7:1-11

Amend your ways and your doings. —Jeremiah 7:3

A friend sent me photographs of 20 beautiful churches in the world. Located as far apart as Iceland and India, each of them is architecturally unique.
The most beautiful place of worship in Jeremiah’s day was the temple in Jerusalem, which King Josiah had recently repaired and restored (2*Chron. 34–35). The people were fixated on the magnificent building (Jer. 7:4), and they foolishly thought that having the temple there meant that God would protect them from their enemies.
Instead, Jeremiah pointed out the sin in their lives (vv.3,9-10). God is not impressed by beautiful buildings constructed in His name if there is no inward beauty in the hearts of those who go there. He is not interested in an outward legalistic worship that is not matched by inward holiness. And it is wrong to think that God protects people just because of the religious things they do.
Just because we’re reading the Bible, praying, and fellowshiping with other believers doesn’t mean that God is somehow then obligated to do something for us. He cannot be manipulated. The purpose of those external activities is to develop our relationship with the Lord and to help us live differently than those in the world around us.

*
Lord, help me to remember that You are most
interested in an obedient heart. Change me when I think
You’re obligated to me because of my religious acts of
worship or service. Give me a pure heart. Amen.
*
*
Remember—God cannot and will not be manipulated.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1104  
Old 08-15-2011, 01:28 AM
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Default Aug. 15

“Embroidery Of Earth”

August 15, 2011

Read: Isaiah 41:17-20

I will plant in the wilderness the cedar and the acacia tree, the myrtle and the oil tree. —Isaiah 41:19

Near one of the most majestic sites in God’s nature is a botanical garden of awe-inspiring beauty. On the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is the Floral Showhouse. Inside the greenhouse is a vast array of beautiful flowers and exotic plants. In addition to the flora my wife and I observed, something else caught our attention—the wording of a plaque.
It reads: “Enter, friends, and view God’s pleasant handiwork, the embroidery of earth.” What a marvelous way to describe the way our Creator favored this globe with such jaw-dropping beauty!
The “embroidery of earth” includes such far-ranging God-touches as the verdant rainforests of Brazil, the frigid beauty of Arctic Circle glaciers, the flowing wheat fields of the North American plains, and the sweeping reaches of the fertile Serengeti in Africa. These areas, like those described in Isaiah 41, remind us to praise God for His creative handiwork.
Scripture also reminds us that the wonder of individual plants are part of God’s work. From the rose (Isa. 35:1) to the lily (Matt. 6:28) to the myrtle, cypress, and pine (Isa. 41:19-20), God colors our world with a splendorous display of beauty. Enjoy the wonder. And spend some time praising God for the “embroidery of earth.”


If God’s creation helps you see
What wonders He can do
Then trust the many promises
That He has given you. —D. De Haan


Creation is filled with signs that point to the Creator.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1105  
Old 08-16-2011, 01:53 AM
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Default Aug. 16

Do It Yourself

August 16, 2011

Read: Mark 6:30-44

[Jesus] answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.” —Mark 6:37

You give them something to eat” (Mark 6:37). It’s easy to miss those words from Jesus. A huge crowd had gathered to hear Him. Late in the day, the disciples got nervous and started pressing Him to send them away (v.36). “You give them something to eat,” Jesus replied (v.37).
Why would He say that? John 6:6 says He was testing them. Did He want to see if they would trust Him to perform a miracle? Maybe, but it seems more likely He wanted His disciples involved in caring for the crowd, to be hands-on in working with and for Him. He then blessed what they brought to Him—five loaves of bread and two fish—and performed the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.
I think Jesus uses those words with us too. A need pre-sents itself in the lives of those around us, and we bring it to Jesus in prayer. “You do something,” Jesus often says. “But, Lord,” we object, “we don’t have enough time or money or energy.” We’re wrong, of course. When Jesus asks us to get involved, He already knows how He will accomplish His work through us.
What we need is faith and vision—the ability to see that God wants us to be His instruments, and that He will supply what we need.


God uses us as instruments
To help someone in need,
So we must trust Him to supply
When following His lead. —Sper


When God says do it, He’s already planned the resources we need to accomplish the task.
__________________
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men"
-Colossians 3:23

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  #1106  
Old 08-17-2011, 02:42 AM
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Default Aug. 17

Friends In The Night

August 17, 2011

Read: 1 Samuel 20:30-42

The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. —1 Samuel 18:1

Do you have someone you could call in the middle of the night if you needed help? Bible teacher Ray Pritchard calls these people “2 a.m. friends.” If you have an emergency, this kind of friend would ask you two questions: “Where are you?” and “What do you need?”
Friends like that are crucial during difficult times. Jonathan was that type of friend for David. Jonathan’s father, King Saul—who was filled with envy at David’s popularity and God’s blessing on him—tried to kill him (1 Sam. 19:9-10). David escaped and asked his friend for help (ch. 20). While David hid in the field, Jonathan sat at dinner with his father and quickly realized that Saul did indeed intend to kill David (vv.24-34).
Because of their deep friendship, Jonathan “was grieved for David” (v.34). He warned him of his father’s plan and told him he should leave (vv.41-42). David recognized what a good friend he had in Jonathan. The Bible says they wept together, “but David more so” (v.41). Their souls were “knit” together.
Do you have loving Christian friends you can count on in a crisis? Are you someone your friends would call a “2 a.m. friend”?


Thank God for you, good friend of mine,
Seldom is friendship such as thine;
How very much I wish to be
As helpful as you’ve been to me. —Clark


A true friend stands with us in times of trial.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1107  
Old 08-18-2011, 02:06 AM
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Default Aug. 18

Promises You Can Bank On

August 18, 2011

Read: 2 Chronicles 6:1-11

For all the promises of God in [Christ] are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. —2 Corinthians 1:20

After a global financial crisis, the US government enacted stricter laws to protect people from questionable banking practices. Banks had to change some of their policies to comply. To notify me of such changes, my bank sent me a letter. But when I got to the end I had more questions than answers. The use of phrases like “we may” and “at our discretion” certainly didn’t sound like anything I could depend on!

In contrast, the Old Testament quotes God as saying “I will” numerous times. God promises David: “I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Sam. 7:12-13). No uncertainty in those words. Recognizing God’s faithfulness to His promises, King Solomon says in his prayer of dedication for the temple: “You have kept what You promised Your servant David my father; You have both spoken with Your mouth and fulfilled it with Your hand” (2 Chron. 6:15). Centuries later, the apostle Paul said that all of God’s promises are “yes” in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20).

In a world of uncertainty, our trust is in a faithful God who will always keep His promises.



Whatever trouble may assail,
Of this we can be sure:
God’s promises can never fail,
They always will endure. —Hess





Faith knows that God always performs what He promises.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1108  
Old 08-19-2011, 02:45 AM
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Default Aug. 19

The Human Camera

August 19, 2011

Read: 1 John 1:1-5

The Holy Spirit . . . will . . . bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. —John 14:26

Steven Wiltshire, who has been called “the human camera,” has the amazing ability to recall tiny details about anything he has seen and then reproduce them in drawings. For example, after Steven was flown over the city of Rome, he was asked to draw the city center on blank paper. Astonishingly, he accurately reproduced from memory the winding streets, the buildings, the windows, and other details.

Wiltshire’s memory is remarkable. Yet there’s another kind of memory that’s even more amazing—and much more vital. Before Jesus’ return to heaven, He promised His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit to give them supernatural memory of what they had experienced: “The Helper, the Holy Spirit . . . will . . . bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).

The disciples heard Christ’s marvelous teachings. They heard Him command the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the dead to be raised. Yet when the Gospel writers recorded these events, their words were not the product of a gifted human memory. Their recollections came from a divine Helper who made sure they compiled a trustworthy record of Christ’s life.

Trust the Bible with confidence. It was written with guidance from the “divine camera,” the Holy Spirit.



The stories in the Word of God
Are there for us to see
How God has worked in people’s lives
Throughout all history. —Sper





The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to teach the people of God.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1109  
Old 08-20-2011, 01:55 PM
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Default Aug. 20

An Obstacle Inventory

August 20, 2011

Read: 2 Corinthians 6:3-10

Let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. —Romans 14:13

Fault-finding is a popular pastime, and unfortunately a lot of us find it’s easy to join the fun. Concentrating on the warts of others is a great way to feel better about ourselves. And that’s just the problem. Avoiding the faults that need to be fixed in our own lives not only stunts our spiritual growth but also obstructs God’s work through us. God’s effectiveness through our lives is enhanced or hindered by the way we live.
It’s no wonder, then, that Paul made a concerted effort to “put no obstacle in anyone’s way” (2 Cor. 6:3 ESV). For him there was nothing more important than his usefulness for Christ in the lives of others. Anything that got in the way of that was dispensable.
If you want to be authentic and useful for God, take an obstacle inventory. Sometimes obstacles are things that in and of themselves may be legitimate, yet in certain contexts may be inappropriate. But sin is clearly obstructive to others. Gossip, slander, boasting, bitterness, greed, abuse, anger, selfishness, and revenge all close the hearts of those around us to the message of God through us.
So, replace your faults with the winsome ways of Jesus. That will enable others to see your “no-fault” Savior more clearly.


Wherever I am, whatever I do,
O God, please help me to live
In a way that makes me credible
As your representative. —Egner


Followers of Jesus are most effective
when attitudes and actions are aligned with His.
__________________
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1110  
Old 08-21-2011, 02:09 AM
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Default Aug. 21

Saints

August 21, 2011

Read: Colossians 1:1-2

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse . . . . —Colossians 1:2

It’s probably not a name we would use for ourselves, but the apostle Paul often called believers “saints” in the New Testament (Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:2). Did he call them saints because they were perfect? No. These people were human and therefore sinful. What then did he have in mind? The word saint in the New Testament means that one is set apart for God. It describes people who have a spiritual union with Christ (Eph. 1:3-6). The word is synonymous with individual believers in Jesus (Rom. 8:27) and those who make up the church (Acts 9:32).
Saints have a responsibility through the power of the Spirit to live lives worthy of their calling. This includes, but is not limited to, no longer being sexually immoral and using improper speech (Eph. 5:3-4). We are to put on the new character traits of service to one another (Rom. 16:2), humility, gentleness, patience, love, unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3), obedience, and perseverance during hardship and suffering (Rev. 13:10; 14:12). In the Old Testament, the psalmist called saints “the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight” (Ps. 16:3).
Our union with Christ makes us saints, but our obedience to God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit makes us saintly.


Oh, to be filled with His life divine,
Oh, to be clothed with His power and might;
Oh, to reflect my dear Savior sublime,
Always to shine as the saints in light! —Anon.


Saints are people whom God’s light shines through.
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-Colossians 3:23

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