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  #1151  
Old 10-02-2011, 05:15 AM
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Default Oct. 2

In Search Of Silence

October 2, 2011

Read: Mark 1:35-45

I have calmed and quieted my soul. —Psalm 131:2

My next record should be 45 minutes of silence,” said singer Meg Hutchinson, “because that’s what we’re missing most in society.”
Silence is indeed hard to find. Cities are notoriously noisy due to the high concentration of traffic and people. There seems to be no escape from loud music, loud machines, and loud voices. But the kind of noise that endangers our spiritual well-being is not the noise we can’t escape but the noise we invite into our lives. Some of us use noise as a way of shutting out loneliness: voices of TV and radio personalities give us the illusion of companionship. Some of us use it as a way of shutting out our own thoughts: other voices and opinions keep us from having to think for ourselves. Some of us use noise as a way of shutting out the voice of God: constant chatter, even when we’re talking about God, keeps us from hearing what God has to say.
But Jesus, even during His busiest times, made a point of seeking out places of solitude where He could carry on a conversation with God (Mark 1:35). Even if we can’t find a place that is perfectly quiet, we need to find a place to quiet our souls (Ps. 131:2), a place where God has our full attention.

For Further Study
For more on this topic, read the online booklet
Mary & Martha: Balancing Life’s Priorities
at www.discoveryseries.org/hp021
Don’t let the noise of the world
keep you from hearing the voice of the Lord.
__________________
"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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  #1152  
Old 10-03-2011, 01:26 AM
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Default Oct. 3

Healing From Heaven

October 3, 2011

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:1-10

Blessed be . . . the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. —2 Corinthians 1:3

Thomas Moore (1779–1852) was an Irish songwriter, singer, and poet. His talents brought joy to many who saw him perform or who sang his music. Yet, tragically, his personal life was troubled by repeated heartaches, including the death of all five of his children during his lifetime. Moore’s personal wounds make these words of his all the more meaningful: “Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish; earth hath no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” This moving statement reminds us that meeting with God in prayer can bring healing to the troubled soul.

The apostle Paul also saw how our heavenly Father can provide solace to the hurting heart. To the believers at Corinth he wrote: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation” (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Sometimes, though, we can be so preoccupied with an inner sorrow that we isolate ourselves from the One who can offer consolation. We need to be reminded that God’s comfort and healing come through prayer.

As we confide in our Father, we can experience peace and the beginning of healing for our wounded hearts. For truly “earth hath no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”

Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed. —Cushing

Prayer is the soil in which hope and healing grow best.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1153  
Old 10-04-2011, 01:04 AM
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Default Oct. 4

No Authority?

October 4, 2011

Read: Proverbs 6:6-11

Consider [the ant’s] ways and be wise, which, having no . . . ruler, provides her supplies . . . and gathers her food. —Proverbs 6:6-8

When the deck behind our house began caving in, I knew its repair would exceed my abilities. So I made some calls, got some bids, and picked a builder to construct a new deck.

Once the contractor was done, I took a close look at his work and noticed some problems. Seeking a second opinion, I called the local building inspector and got a surprise. The deck guy had not obtained a building permit. Working without official oversight, he had violated many points of the building code.

This incident reminded me of an important truth (other than asking to see the building permit): We often do less than our best if we don’t have any accountability to the authority over us.

In Scripture, we see this principle explained in two of Jesus’ parables (Matt. 24:45-51; 25:14-30). In both cases, at least one unsupervised worker failed when the master was gone. But then we see a different approach in Proverbs 6. We see the example of the ant, which does good work without a visible supervisor. It intrinsically does its work without being monitored.

What about us? Do we do good work only when someone is watching? Or do we recognize that all our service is for God, and so do our best at all times—even when no human authority is watching?

God sees and knows the work we do:
Our faithfulness He will reward;
With His authority in view,
Let’s do our best for Christ the Lord. —Hess

No matter who your boss is, you are really working for God.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1154  
Old 10-05-2011, 01:38 AM
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Default Oct. 5

Location, Location, Locationrel

October 5, 2011

Read: Colossians 1:3-14

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son. —Colossians 1:13

Buying and selling real estate in the US is tricky business these days. Housing prices have dropped significantly, and if you’re trying to unload commercial property it’s even more difficult. So, in the game of real estate, it remains important to keep this old adage in mind: “The three most important things to know about buying and selling property are location, location, location!”

The same is true of living for Jesus. Knowing our location spiritually is critical if we are to succeed in navigating through the greatly devalued territory of our world. Paul reminds us that we have a new location in Christ, having been delivered “from the power of darkness and conveyed . . . into the kingdom of the Son” (Col. 1:13). Knowing that we have been relocated by His amazing grace into the kingdom of Jesus makes a difference. Jesus now reigns as King in our hearts and minds, and we are His grateful subjects. His will is our will and His ways become patterns for all of life and behavior. And when we are forced to make a choice, our allegiance is to Him.

So, when the temptations and the seductions of the darkness from which you have been removed threaten His reign in your heart, remember your new postal code: Colossians 1:13!

Where Jesus reigns there is no fear,
No restless doubt, no hopeless tear,
No raging sea nor tempest dread,
But quietness and calm instead. —Anon.

The subjects of the kingdom
should display the manners of the court.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1155  
Old 10-06-2011, 12:15 AM
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Default Oct. 6

Shine On!

October 6, 2011

Read: Matthew 5:14-16; 1 Peter 2:9-10

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. —Matthew 5:16

I was frustrated that despite my repeated calls, the streetlight in front of my house was still out. Because we don’t have sidewalks and there is such a large distance between the streetlights, it’s important that each light is functional to illuminate the darkness. I worried that I might hit one of the school kids as I pulled out of my driveway in the early morning hours.

The idea of light is used frequently in the Bible. Jesus said that He is the Light of the world (John 9:5). We are told to “put on the armor of light” by clothing ourselves with the Lord (Rom. 13:12-14). And Matthew 5:16 instructs that we should “let [our] light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works and glorify [our] Father in heaven.”

A light that doesn’t shine has lost its usefulness. Jesus said that no one hides a light under a basket but puts it on a lampstand to illuminate everything around it (Matt. 5:15). Our light (our actions) should point people to the One who is the Light. We don’t have any light in ourselves, but we shine with the reflection of Christ (Eph. 5:8).

God has placed each of us in a specific environment that will best allow us to shine with His light. Don’t be like a burned-out streetlight. Shine on!

Lord, help us always put You first
In everything we say and do
So that Your light will shine through us
And show the world their need of You. —Sper

Whether you’re a candle in a corner
or a beacon on a hill, let your light shine.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1156  
Old 10-07-2011, 12:58 AM
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Default Oct. 7

A No-Smiling Policy

October 7, 2011

Read: John 13:31-35

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. —John 13:35

Usually we’re told to smile before someone takes our picture. But in some parts of the US, a no-smiling policy is enforced when getting your photo taken for a driver’s license. Because of identity theft, these motor vehicle departments carefully check new photos that are taken to be sure they don’t match photos already in the system. If someone gets a picture taken under a false name, an alarm is sent to the operator. From 1999 to 2009, one state stopped 6,000 people from getting fraudulent licenses. But why no smiling? The technology recognizes a face more easily if the person has a neutral facial expression.

Jesus prescribed a good way to recognize a Christian. He told His disciples, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). The ways to show love to fellow believers are as endless as there are people with needs: a note of encouragement, a visit, a meal, a gentle rebuke, a prayer, a Bible verse, a listening ear, even just a friendly smile.

The apostle John wrote, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). Can others recognize, by our care for fellow Christians, that we know and love the Lord?

For Christians to be recognized
As people who follow the Lord,
Their love for one another is
A virtue that can’t be ignored. —Sper

One measure of our love for God
is how much we show love to His children.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1157  
Old 10-08-2011, 05:12 AM
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Default Oct. 8

Free To Choose

October 8, 2011

Read: Daniel 6:1-10

He knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. —Daniel 6:10

When it was learned that the biggest football game of the 2011 season was scheduled to be played on Yom Kippur, the student government at the University of Texas petitioned school officials to change the date. They said it was unfair to make Jewish students choose between the classic football rivalry with Oklahoma and observing their most important and sacred holy day of the year. But the date was not changed. Even in societies where people have religious freedom, difficult choices are still required of every person of faith.

Daniel demonstrated the courage to obey God no matter what the consequences. When his political rivals set a trap to eliminate him from their path to power (Dan. 6:1-9), he didn’t challenge the law or complain that he had been wronged. “When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (v.10).

Daniel didn’t know if God would save him from the lions’ den, but it didn’t matter. He chose to honor God in his life whatever the outcome. Like Daniel, we are free to choose to follow the Lord.

What freedom lies with all who choose
To live for God each day!
But chains of bondage shackle those
Who choose some other way. —D. De Haan

You can never go wrong when you choose to follow Christ.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1158  
Old 10-09-2011, 03:05 AM
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Default Oct. 9

The Cost Of Fighting

October 9, 2011

Read: James 4:1-10

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? —James 4:1

During a documentary on World War I, the narrator said that if Britain’s casualties in “the war to end all wars” were marched four abreast past London’s war monument, the processional would take 7 days to complete. This staggering word picture set my mind spinning at the awful cost of war. While those costs include monetary expense, destruction of property, and economic interruption, none of these compare to the human cost. Both soldiers and civilians pay the ultimate price, multiplied exponentially by the grief of the survivors. War is costly.

When believers go to war with one another, the cost is also high. James wrote, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (James 4:1). In our own selfish pursuits, we sometimes battle without considering the price exacted on our witness to the world or our relationships with one another. Perhaps that is why James preceded these words with the challenge, “Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (3:18).

If we are to represent the Prince of Peace in our world, believers need to stop fighting with one another and practice peace.

The wars and fights within the church
Disrupt our unity and peace;
How can we show the peace of Christ
Unless our conflicts cease? —Sper

When Christians are at peace with one another, the world can more clearly see the Prince of Peace.
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  #1159  
Old 10-10-2011, 01:35 AM
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Default Oct. 10

The Joy Of Remembering

October 10, 2011

Read: Psalm 103:1-14

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. —Psalm 103:2

A long-time friend described the days surrounding his 90th birthday as “a time . . . to do a little reflecting, looking in the rearview mirror of my life, and spending many hours in what I call ‘The Grace of Remembrance.’ It’s so easy to forget all the ways that the Lord has led! ‘Forget not all His benefits’” (Ps. 103:2).

This was typical of the person I’ve known and admired for more than 50 years. Rather than reviewing disappointments, his letter was filled with thankfulness and praise to God.

First, he recalled the Lord’s temporal mercies—his good health, the enjoyment of his wife and children, the joy and success of work, his enriching friendships, and the opportunities he’d had to serve God. He considered them all gifts—none deserved, but all gratefully received.

Next, he reviewed God’s spiritual mercies—the influence of Christian parents and the experience of God’s forgiveness when he accepted Christ as a teenager. He concluded with the encouragement he’d received from churches, schools, and Christian men who cared and prayed for each other.

It’s a model we should follow on a regular basis—the joy of remembering. “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” (v.1).

He knoweth best! His will for me
Is better than my plans.
Do not all good and perfect gifts
Come from my Father’s hand? —Doonan

Give loving thanks for the Lord’s lavish gifts.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1160  
Old 10-11-2011, 02:27 AM
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Default Oct. 11

The Forgotten God

October 11, 2011

Read: 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

No one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. —1 Corinthians 2:11

When we quote The Apostles’ Creed, we say, “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” Author J. B. Phillips said, “Every time we say [this] we mean that we believe that [the Spirit] is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it.”

Sometimes we forget that the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force. The Bible describes Him as God. He possesses the attributes of God: He is present everywhere (Ps. 139:7-8), He knows all things (1 Cor. 2:10-11), and He has infinite power (Luke 1:35). He also does things that only God can do: create (Gen. 1:2) and give life (Rom. 8:2). He is equal in every way with the other Persons of the Trinity—the Father and the Son.

The Holy Spirit is a Person who engages in personal ways with us. He grieves when we sin (Eph. 4:30). He teaches us (1 Cor. 2:13), prays for us (Rom. 8:26), guides us (John 16:13), gives us spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:11), and assures us of salvation (Rom. 8:16).

The Holy Spirit indwells us if we have received forgiveness of sin through Jesus. He desires to transform us so that we become more and more like Jesus. Let’s cooperate with the Spirit by reading God’s Word and relying on His power to obey what we learn.

God’s guidance and help that we need day to day
Is given to all who believe;
The Spirit has sealed us—He’s God’s guarantee
Of power that we can receive. —Branon

The Christian who neglects the Holy Spirit
is like a lamp that’s not plugged in.
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