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  #1181  
Old 10-31-2011, 03:17 AM
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Default Oct. 31

Surprise!

October 31, 2011

Read: John 1:6-13

Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! —John 1:29

A writer for The Washington Post conducted an experiment to test people’s perception. He asked a famous violinist to perform incognito at a train station in the nation’s capital one January morning. Thousands of people walked by as he played, but only a few stopped to listen. After 45 minutes, just $32 had been dropped into the virtuoso’s open violin case. Two days earlier, this man—Joshua Bell—had used the same $3.5 million Stradivarius for a sold-out concert where people paid $100 a seat to hear him perform.
The idea of a person not being recognized for his greatness isn’t new. It happened to Jesus. “He was in the world,” John said, “. . . and the world did not know Him” (John 1:10). Why did people who had been expecting the Messiah give Jesus such a cold reception? One reason is that they were surprised. Just as people today don’t expect famous musicians to play in railway stations, the people in Jesus’ day didn’t expect Messiah to be born in a stable. They also expected Him to be a political king—not the head of a spiritual kingdom.
The people in the first century were blinded to God’s purpose in sending Jesus to this world. He came to save people from their sins (John 1:29). Receive God’s surprising gift of salvation that He offers freely to you today.

Amazing thought! that God in flesh
Would take my place and bear my sin;
That I, a guilty, death-doomed soul,
Eternal life might win! —Anon.
God broke into human history to offer us the gift of eternal life.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1182  
Old 11-01-2011, 02:48 AM
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Default Nov. 1

Staying Clean

November 1, 2011

Read: Psalm 119:9-16

Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. —Psalm 119:11

During a business trip to Philadelphia, I walked down Broad Street toward City Hall each morning to catch the subway. Each day I passed a long line of people waiting for something. They were a cross-section of humanity in age, ethnic origin, and appearance. After wondering about it for 3 days, I asked a man on the sidewalk why all those people were standing in line. He told me that they were on probation or parole after breaking the law and had to take a daily drug test to show that they were staying clean.

This struck me as a vivid illustration of my need to stay spiritually clean before God. When the psalmist pondered how he could live a pure life, he concluded that the key was to consider and obey God’s teaching. “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes. . . . I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your Word” (Ps. 119:11-12,16).

In the light of God’s Word, we see our sin, but we also see God’s love in Christ. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

By His grace . . . staying clean.

Lord, grant that we may hear You speak
As truth within Your Word we seek;
And may it show us all our sin
And make us clean without, within. —D. De Haan

Read the Bible to be wise, believe it to be safe,
practice it to be holy.
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  #1183  
Old 11-02-2011, 03:07 AM
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Default Nov. 2

Mouth Guard
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November 2, 2011 — by David C. Egner
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Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
Read: Proverbs 15:1-7
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. —Proverbs 15:2
Bible in a year:
Jeremiah 27-29; Titus 3

I was walking in a subway in Minsk, Belarus, with my friend Yuliya and her daughter Anastasia when I suddenly fell face first onto the dirty concrete floor. I don’t remember the fall, but I do remember suddenly having a mouth filled with sand, gravel, and grit. Ugh! I couldn’t get that stuff out of my mouth quickly enough!

I didn’t enjoy what went into my mouth on that embarrassing occasion. But Scripture teaches that it’s more important to guard what comes out of our mouths. When the writer of Proverbs 15 said that “the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness” (v.2), the word translated pours forth literally means “explodes out.” Rash accusations, angry words, and verbal abuse can do immeasurable and lifelong harm. The apostle Paul spoke bluntly about this: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth” (Eph. 4:29)—no dirty talk. He also said to “[put] away lying” and to “speak truth” (v.25)—no lies. And later, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you” (v.31)—no character assassination. What comes out of our mouths should be wholesome and uplifting.

We guard carefully what goes into our mouths—and rightly so. To honor God, let’s also keep tight control on the words that come out of our mouths.

Lord, help us to control our tongues,
To clean up what we say,
To use words that will edify,
To honor You today. —Sper

Be careful of your thoughts—they may become words at any time.
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  #1184  
Old 11-03-2011, 03:09 AM
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Default Nov. 3

Looking For Water

November 3, 2011

Read: John 4:1-15

Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. —John 4:14

The United States has spent millions of dollars looking for water on Mars. A few years ago, NASA sent twin robots, Opportunity and Spirit, to the red planet to see if water was present or had been present at one time. Why did the US do this? The scientists who are poring over data sent back from those two little Martian rovers are trying to figure out if life ever existed on Mars. And for that to have happened, there had to be water. No water, no life.

Two thousand years ago, a couple of “rovers” set out across the countryside of an Earth-outpost called Samaria looking for water. One was a woman who lived nearby. The other was a man from Galilee. They ended up meeting at a well near the village of Sychar. When they did, Jesus found the water He was looking for, and the woman found the water she didn’t know she needed (John 4:5-15).

Water is essential for both physical and spiritual life. Jesus had a surprise for the woman at the well. He offered her the Water of Life—Himself. He is the refreshing, renewing “fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

Do you know anyone looking for water? Someone who is spiritually thirsty? Introduce that person to Jesus, the Living Water. It’s the greatest discovery of all time.

Gracious and Almighty Savior,
Source of all that shall endure,
Quench my thirst with living water,
Living water, clear and pure. —Vinal

Only Jesus, the Living Water, can satisfy the thirsty soul.
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  #1185  
Old 11-04-2011, 02:06 AM
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Default Nov. 4

Lambs May Wade

November 4, 2011

Read: 2 Timothy 3:13-17

All Scripture . . . is profitable. —2 Timothy 3:16

Author C. S. Lewis says that reli- gious concepts are like soups—some are thick and some are clear. There are indeed “thick” concepts in the Bible: mysteries, subtleties, and complexities that challenge the most accomplished mind. For example, “[God] has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens” (Rom. 9:18). And yet, in the same volume there are thoughts that are crystal “clear”: simple, attainable, and easily grasped. What could ever surpass the simplicity of the clear affirmation in 1 John 4:16, “God is love”?

John Cameron, a 15th-century writer, suggests, “In the same meadow, the ox may lick up grass, . . . the bird may pick up seeds, . . . and a man finds a pearl; so in one and the same Scripture are varieties to be found for all sorts of conditions. In them, the lamb may wade, and the elephant swim, children may be fed with milk, and meat may be had for stronger men.”

All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in God’s Book, the Bible—ocean depths that can stir the most sophisticated mind, and shallow areas that can be negotiated by any simple, honest soul.

Why hesitate? “All Scripture . . . is profitable” (2 Tim. 3:16). Jump in!

Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine,
And jewels rich and rare
Are hidden in its mighty depths
For every searcher there. —Hodder

God speaks through His Word—take time to listen.
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  #1186  
Old 11-05-2011, 02:49 AM
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Default Nov. 5

Peace In Crisis

November 5, 2011

Read: John 14:19-

Peace I leave with you. —John 14:27

Ted, one of the elders in our church, used to be a police officer. One day after responding to a report of violence, he said the situation turned life-threatening. A man had stabbed someone and then menacingly turned the blade toward Ted. A fellow officer had taken position and fired his weapon at the assailant as he attacked Ted. The criminal was subdued, but Ted was shot in the crossfire. As he was driven by ambulance to the hospital, he felt deep waves of peace flowing over his soul from the Holy Spirit. Ted felt so tranquil that he was able to offer words of comfort to the law enforcement officer who was emotionally distraught over the crisis.

The Lord Jesus promised us peace in crisis. Just hours before His own crucifixion, Christ comforted His disciples with these words: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

What is your worst fear? If you should have to face it, Christ will be there with you. Trusting Him through prayer makes available “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,” and it “will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).

O the blessedness to nestle
Like a child upon His breast;
Finding ever, as He promised
Perfect comfort, peace, and rest. —Hennessay

The secret of peace is to give every anxious care to God.
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  #1187  
Old 11-06-2011, 02:05 AM
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Default Nov. 6

Mighty Waters

November 6, 2011

Read: Revelation 1:9-17

His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters. —Revelation 1:15

While in Brazil, I went to see Iguazu Falls, one of the greatest waterfalls in the world. The massive falls are breathtaking, but what impressed me most at Iguazu was not the sight of the falls or the spray of the water. It was the sound. The sound was beyond deafening—I felt as if I was actually inside the sound itself. It was an overwhelming experience that reminded me how small I am by comparison.
Later, with this scene in mind, I couldn’t help but think about John in Revelation 1:15. While on the island of Patmos, he saw a vision of the risen Christ. The apostle described Jesus in the glory of His resurrection, noting both His clothing and His physical qualities. Then John described Christ’s voice “as the sound of many waters” (v.15).
I’m not sure I fully appreciated what that meant until I visited Iguazu and was overwhelmed by the thundering sound of the falls. As those mighty waters reminded me of my own smallness, I better understood why John fell at the feet of Christ as if dead (v.17).
Perhaps that description will help you grasp the awesomeness of Jesus’ presence and prompt you to follow John’s example of worshiping the Savior.

Pay honor to our marvelous Savior—
Daily His wonders proclaim;
Dwell always in the presence of Jesus,
And worship His holy name. —Branon
True worship of Christ changes admiration into adoration.
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  #1188  
Old 11-07-2011, 01:04 AM
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Default Nov. 7

Plowing Straight Lines

November 7, 2011

Read: Philippians 3:8-17

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 3:14

It’s my first day on the tractor! A crisp morning breeze brushes across the field. Crickets and country silence yield to the roar of the engine. Dropping the plow into the soil, I head out across the field. I look down at the gauges and gearshift, squeeze the cold steel of the steering wheel, and admire the power at my disposal. Finally, I look back to view the results. Instead of the ramrod straight line I was expecting, I see what looks like a slithering snake, with more bends and curves than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
We know better. “Plow with your eye on the fence post,” we’ve been told. By staying focused on a point across the field, a person plowing is assured of a straight line. On the return I comply, with telling results: The line is straight. The row was messed up only when I didn’t have a focus point.
Paul had similar wisdom when he wrote of having his focus on Jesus Christ and the impact it had on him. Not only did he ignore distractions (Phil. 3:8,13), he set the focus (vv.8,14), noted the result (vv.9-11), and observed the pattern it sets for others (vv.16-17).
Like Paul, if we focus on Christ, we will plow a straight path and accomplish God’s purpose in our lives.

Lord, help us keep our eyes on You
And focused on the task
Of bringing glory to Your name
By doing what You ask. —Sper
When you keep your eyes on Christ,
everything will come into focus.
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  #1189  
Old 11-08-2011, 03:56 AM
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Default Nov. 8

What A Great Neighborhood

November 8, 2011

Read: Romans 14:13-19

For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. —Romans 14:17

Where you live has a way of making certain demands on how you live. In my neighborhood, the garbage collector comes on Tuesday mornings, so it’s my responsibility to get our garbage can out to the curb the night before. Letting the trash pile up on the curb for days before doesn’t make for happy neighbors. And we have lots of children playing outside, so signs are posted everywhere reminding drivers to slow down. That means I drive slowly and watch for little ones who, without looking, chase wayward balls into the street.

It’s important to remember that God has placed us into the “kingdom of the Son” (Col. 1:13). Living in His neighborhood means there are life-transforming behavior patterns that should clearly reflect our spiritual location. This is why Paul reminds us that God’s kingdom is not about arguing and bickering over earthly stuff but about “righteousness and peace and joy” (Rom. 14:17). Living by God’s right standards, living to be a peacemaker, and living to be a source of joy in our relationships are what kingdom life is all about. And, when we live like this, our lives please God and bless others (v.18).

Sounds like the kind of neighborhood anyone would love to live in!

The world gets a glimpse of God
When those who claim to be
The followers of Jesus Christ
Are living righteously. —Sper

If you’re part of the kingdom of God,
it will make a difference in how you live.
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  #1190  
Old 11-09-2011, 03:35 AM
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Default Nov. 9

Waiting . . .

November 9, 2011

Read: Luke 2:22-38

Blessed are all those who wait for Him. —Isaiah 30:18

Autumn is hunting season here in Michigan. For a few weeks every year, licensed hunters are allowed to go out into the woods and hunt for various species of wildlife. Some hunters build elaborate tree stands high above the ground where they sit quietly for hours waiting for a deer to wander within rifle range.

When I think of hunters who are so patient when it comes to waiting for deer, I think of how impatient we can be when we have to wait for God. We often equate “wait” with “waste.” If we’re waiting for something (or someone), we think we are doing nothing, which, in an accomplishment-crazed culture, seems like a waste of time.

But waiting serves many purposes. In particular, it proves our faith. Those whose faith is weak are often the first to give up waiting, while those with the strongest faith are willing to wait indefinitely.

When we read the Christmas story in Luke 2, we learn of two people who proved their faith by their willingness to wait. Simeon and Anna waited long, but their time wasn’t wasted; it put them in a place where they could witness the coming of Messiah (vv.22-38).

Not receiving an immediate answer to prayer is no reason to give up faith.

Not ours to know the reason why
Unanswered is our prayer,
But ours to wait for God’s own time
To lift the cross we bear. —Anon.

Waiting for God is never a waste of time.
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