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  #1141  
Old 09-21-2011, 12:47 AM
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Default Sep. 21

A Lesson In Crying

September 21, 2011

Read: Revelation 21:1-7

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. —Matthew 5:4

Has your heart ever been broken? What broke it? Cruelty? Failure? Unfaithfulness? Loss? Perhaps you’ve crept into the darkness to cry.

It’s good to cry. “Tears are the only cure for weeping,” said Scottish preacher George MacDonald. A little crying does one good.

Jesus wept at His friend Lazarus’ grave (John 11:35), and He weeps with us (v.33). His heart was broken as well. Our tears attract our Lord’s lovingkindness and tender care. He knows our troubled, sleepless nights. His heart aches for us when we mourn. He is the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation” (2 Cor. 1:3-4). And He uses His people to comfort one another.

But tears and our need for comfort come back all too frequently in this life. Present comfort is not the final answer. There is a future day when there will be no death, no sorrow, no crying, for all these things will “have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). There in heaven God will wipe away every tear. We are so dear to our Father that He will be the one who wipes the tears away from our eyes; He loves us so deeply and personally.

Remember, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).



Think of a land of no sorrow,
Think of a land of no fears,
Think of no death and no sickness,
Think of a land of no tears. —Anon.





God cares and shares in our sorrow.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1142  
Old 09-22-2011, 03:33 AM
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Default Sep. 22

Beyond The Status Quo

September 22, 2011

Read: John 5:35-47

But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. —John 5:40

Dr. Jack Mezirow, professor emeritus at Columbia Teachers College, believes that an essential element in adult learning is to challenge our own ingrained perceptions and examine our insights critically. Dr. Mezirow says that adults learn best when faced with what he calls a “disorienting dilemma”—something that “helps you critically reflect on the assumptions you’ve acquired” (Barbara Strauch, The New York Times). This is the opposite of saying, “My mind is made up—don’t confuse me with the facts.”
When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, He challenged the deeply held beliefs of many religious leaders, and they sought to silence Him (John 5:16-18). Jesus said to them: “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (vv.39-40).
Oswald Chambers observed, “God has a way of bringing in facts which upset a man’s doctrines if these stand in the way of God getting at his soul.”
Unsettling experiences that cause us to question our assumptions about the Lord can also lead us to a deeper understanding and trust in Him—if we’re willing to think it through and come to Him.

*
My mind cries its questions,
My longing heart, joining.
O Father, please hear me!
O Spirit, keep teaching! —Verway
*
*
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” —Socrates
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  #1143  
Old 09-23-2011, 02:00 AM
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Default Sep. 23

Serious Business

September 23, 2011

Read: Psalm 96

The Lord reigns; the world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously. —Psalm 96:10

Recently I was called for jury duty. It meant extraordinary inconvenience and lots of lost time, but it was also serious business. During the first day’s orientation, the judge lectured us on the responsibility at hand and the important nature of the task. We were going to sit in judgment of people who either had disputes (civil court) or were charged with crimes (criminal court). I felt a great sense of inadequacy for the task at hand. Passing judgment on another person, with serious life consequences riding on the decision, is not a simple thing. Because we’re flawed human beings, we may not always make the right judgments.
While the justice systems of our world might struggle and falter because of the inherent failings of the humans that manage them, we can always trust our God to excel in wisdom and fairness. The psalmist sang, “The Lord reigns; the world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously” (Ps. 96:10). God judges according to righteousness—defined by His own perfect justice and flawless character.
We can trust God now when life seems unfair, knowing that He will one day make all things right in His final court (2 Cor. 5:10).


The best of judges on this earth
Aren’t always right or fair;
But God, the righteous Judge of all,
Wrongs no one in His care. —Egner


One day God will right every wrong.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1144  
Old 09-24-2011, 02:17 AM
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Default Sep. 24

From Bad To Worse

September 24, 2011

Read: Exodus 5:1-14,22-23

* I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians . . . and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm. —Exodus 6:6 *

It happened again. I got the urge to clean my office. Before I could resist, I had created an even bigger mess than I started with. One pile turned into many piles when I started sorting books, papers, and magazines. As the mess mushroomed, I lamented that I had started. But there was no going back.
When God recruited Moses to rescue the Hebrews from slavery, their situation went from bad to worse as well. There was no doubt that the job needed to be done. The people had been crying out to God to help them (Ex. 2:23). Reluctantly, very reluctantly, Moses agreed to appeal to Pharaoh on behalf of the Hebrews. The encounter did not go well. Instead of releasing the people, Pharaoh increased his unreasonable demands. Moses questioned whether he should have started (5:22-23). Only after a lot more trouble for a lot of people did Pharaoh let the people leave.
Whenever we set out to do something good, even when we’re certain that God wants us to do it, we shouldn’t be surprised when the situation gets worse before it gets better. This doesn’t prove that we’re doing the wrong thing; it just reminds us that we need God to accomplish everything.

*
*
*
There is only One who knows
All the answers to my woes;
He will all my needs supply
When in faith to Him I cry. —Morgan
*
*
*
*
*
*
The supreme need in every hour of difficulty
is a vision of God. —G. C. Morgan
*
*
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  #1145  
Old 09-25-2011, 05:54 AM
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Default Sep. 25

Ash-Heap Christians

September 25, 2011

Read: 1 Corinthians 3:5-15

Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it . . . the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. —1 Corinthians 3:13

Someone once asked me why she should be like Jesus now since she would become like Him when she got to heaven (1 John 3:1-3). Great question! Especially when it’s easier to just be yourself.
Actually, there are several reasons why becoming like Him now is important, but one is near the top. When we see and stand before Him, we will give an account as to whether or not we lived in ways that were consistent with His will. Or, as Paul put it, whether or not we have built on Him as our foundation with “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, [or] straw” (1 Cor. 3:12-13).
All that we do to advance His kingdom—things like contribute to the strength of His church, serve the poor and needy, and promote righteousness and justice as He did—is like building with essential materials that will survive the fire of His judgment. On the contrary, building with things that reflect our fallen ways, and living to advance ourselves and our earthly desires are commodities that will turn into a pile of ashes before the consuming fire of His glory.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather love Jesus enough to live like Him now, for the thought of standing before Him in a heap of ashes is an unthinkable alternative.

*
Father, thank You for the Spirit,
Fill us with His love and power;
Change us into Christ’s own image
Day by day and hour by hour. —Anon.
*
*
Build your life with commodities
that will stand the test of God’s judgment.
*
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1146  
Old 09-26-2011, 02:37 AM
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Default Sep. 26

A FIRM Foundation

September 26, 2011

Read: Deuteronomy 6:1-9

These words which I command you . . . you shall teach them diligently to your children. —Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Before she was 2 years old, my granddaughter Katie did something that would make any grandpa proud: She began to recognize cars by make and year. This all started when she and her daddy began spending time together playing with his old collection of toy cars. Daddy would say, “Katie, get the 1957 Chevy,” and she would pick it out of the hundreds of tiny cars. And once, while he was reading a Curious George book to her, she climbed down from his lap and ran to get a miniature Rolls Royce—an exact replica of the car pictured in the book.
If a 2-year-old child can make such connections, doesn’t that show the importance of teaching children the right things early on? We can do this by using what I call the FIRM principle: Familiarity, Interest, Recognition, and Modeling. This follows Moses’ pattern in Deuteronomy 6 of taking every opportunity to teach biblical truths so that children become familiar with them and make them a part of their lives. Using their interests as teaching opportunities, we repeat Bible stories so they become recognizable, while modeling a godly life before them.
Let’s give the children in our lives a FIRM foundation by teaching them about God’s love, Christ’s salvation, and the importance of godly living.

*
O give us homes built firm upon the Savior,
Where Christ is Head and Counselor and Guide,
Where every child is taught His love and favor
And gives his heart to Christ, the crucified. —Hart
*
*
Build your children’s lives on the firm foundation of the Word.
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  #1147  
Old 09-26-2011, 11:40 PM
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Default Sep. 27

The Tales Of Two Sticks

September 27, 2011

Read: Exodus 4:1-9,17

You shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs. —Exodus 4:17

Conventional wisdom questions how much can be accomplished with little. We tend to believe that a lot more can be done if we have large financial resources, talented manpower, and innovative ideas. But these things don’t matter to God. Consider just a couple of examples:
In Judges 3:31, a relatively unknown man named Shamgar delivered Israel from the Philistines single-handedly. How? He won a great victory by killing 600 Philistines with nothing more than an oxgoad (a stick sharpened on one end to drive slow-moving animals).
In Exodus, when God asked Moses to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, Moses was afraid the people wouldn’t listen to him or follow him. So God said, “What is that in your hand?” (4:2). Moses replied, “A rod.” God went on to use that rod in Moses’ hand to convince the people to follow him, to turn the Nile River into blood, to bring great plagues on Egypt, to part the Red Sea, and to perform miracles in the wilderness.
Moses’ rod and Shamgar’s oxgoad, when dedicated to God, became mighty tools. This helps us see that God can use what little we have, when surrendered to Him, to do great things. God is not looking for people with great abilities, but for those who are dedicated to following and obeying Him.


If you use what little you may have
To serve the Lord with all your heart
You will find that He can do great things
When you begin to do your part. —Sper


Little is much when God is in it.
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  #1148  
Old 09-28-2011, 01:18 AM
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Default Sep. 28

Not At This Time

September 28, 2011

Read: Romans 11:33–12:2

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. —Romans 12:2


It can be quite discouraging for wanna-be writers to get their work rejected time after time. When they send in a manuscript to a publisher, they’ll often hear back in a letter with these words: “Thank you. But your submission does not meet our needs at this time.” Sometimes this really means “not at this time—or ever.” So they try the next publisher and the next.

I’ve found that the phrase This does not meet our needs at this time—or ever can be a helpful saying in my Christian walk to renew my mind and refocus my thoughts on the Lord.

Here’s what I mean. When starting to worry, we can remind ourselves: “Worry does not meet my needs at this time—or ever. My heart’s need is to trust God. I will ‘be anxious for nothing’ ” (Phil. 4:6).

When we envy what another person has or does, we can reinforce the truth: “Envy does not meet my needs at this time—or ever. My need is to give thanks to God. His Word says, ‘Envy is rottenness to the bones’ (Prov. 14:30), and ‘In everything give thanks’ ” (1 Thess. 5:18).

We can’t renew our minds by ourselves (Rom. 12:2); it’s the transforming work of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Yet speaking the truth in our thoughts can help us to submit to the Spirit’s work within.



For Further Thought
What are some areas you struggle with in your heart?
Ask God to renew your mind that it might think like His.
Then keep reminding yourself of the truth.





The Spirit of God renews our minds
when we review the Word of God.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1149  
Old 09-29-2011, 12:19 AM
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Default Sep. 29

The Story Of A Wall

September 29, 2011

Read: Ephesians 2:11-22

He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation. —Ephesians 2:14

While visiting the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England, I reflected on the fact that this may be the most remembered achievement of the Roman emperor who came to power in ad 117. As many as 18,000 Roman soldiers manned this 80-mile-long barrier, built to keep the northern barbarians from invading the south.

Hadrian is remembered for building a physical wall to keep people out. In contrast, Jesus Christ is remembered for tearing down a spiritual wall to let people in.

When the early church experienced tension between believers of Jewish and non-Jewish birth, Paul told them that, through Christ, they stood equally in the family of God. “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation . . . so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace . . . . For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:14-15,18).

One of the most beautiful aspects of the Christian faith is the unity among those who follow Jesus. Through His death on the cross, Christ has removed the barriers that so often separate people and has drawn us together in true friendship and love.



God’s people have so much to do
In serving Christ today
That they should use their precious time
To share, to love, to pray. —Branon





Christian unity begins at the cross.
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  #1150  
Old 10-01-2011, 03:24 AM
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Default Oct. 1

Tone Check

October 1, 2011

Read: Colossians 4:2-6

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. —Colossians 4:6

Driving home from work, I heard a radio advertisement that got my attention. It was for a computer program that checks e-mails as they are written. I was familiar with “spell check” and “grammar check” programs, but this was different. This was “tone check.” The software monitors the tone and wording of e-mails to make certain they are not overly aggressive, unkind, or mean-spirited.

As I listened to the announcer describe the features of this software, I wondered what it would be like to have something like that for my mouth. How many times have I reacted harshly instead of listening first—and later regretted the words I had spoken? Certainly a tone check would have protected me from responding so foolishly.

Paul saw the need for us as believers to check our speech—especially when talking to those who are not Christians. He said, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6). His concern was that our speech be graceful, reflecting the beauty of our Savior. And it must be inviting to others. Talking with the right tone to unbelievers is vital to our ability to witness to them. Colossians 4:6 can be our tone check.

Tone of voice can be effective
If our spirit’s calm and meek;
Let us watch our words and actions,
Always careful how we speak. —Hess

Every time we speak, our heart is on parade.
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