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  #1191  
Old 11-10-2011, 04:13 AM
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Default Nov. 10

It’s All About Him

November 10, 2011

Read: John 3:22-36

He must increase, but I must decrease. —John 3:30

When Sheri got engaged, her single friend Amy celebrated with her. She planned a bridal shower, helped pick out her wedding dress, walked down the aisle just before her, and stood by her side during the ceremony. When Sheri and her husband had children, Amy gave baby showers and rejoiced in her friend’s blessings.

Sheri told Amy later, “You’ve comforted me during hard times, but the way I especially know you love me is that you rejoice with me in my good times. You haven’t let any jealousy hold you back from celebrating with me.”

When John’s disciples heard that a new rabbi named Jesus was gaining followers, they thought John might be jealous (John 3:26). They came to him and said, “He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” But John celebrated Jesus’ ministry. He said, “I have been sent before Him. . . . The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled” (vv.28-29).

An attitude of humility should also characterize us. Rather than desiring attention for ourselves, everything we do should bring glory to our Savior. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (v.30).

Not I but Christ be honored, loved, exalted;
Not I but Christ be seen, be known, be heard;
Not I but Christ in every look and action;
Not I but Christ in every thought and word. —Whiddington

If we want an increase of Christ, there must be a decrease of self.
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  #1192  
Old 11-11-2011, 02:41 AM
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Default Nov. 11

True Security

November 11, 2011

Read: Romans 8:31-39

In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. —Romans 8:37

During the Cold War—a period of unrest between major world powers in the last half of the 20th century—Americans lived under the threat of nuclear war. I recall that during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, we seemed to be a heartbeat away from annihilation. It was heady stuff for a sixth-grader.

One of my strangest memories of those turbulent times was the school safety drill. An alarm would sound, and we would hide under our desks—for protection from atomic bombs. Looking back, I’m certain it wouldn’t have helped us in the event of a nuclear holocaust. It may have even given us a false sense of security.

While we may not face the same level of nuclear threat today, there are still many dangers that scare us—and some of them are spiritual. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that our battles are “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” These are mighty foes indeed, but God has given us His protective love (Rom. 8:35,38-39) and the spiritual resources of His armor (Eph. 6:13-17).

The result? While we face powerful enemies, “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). In our heavenly Father, we have true security.

Though danger lurks on every side,
In Christ our Lord we will abide;
Our God is strong, our hope is sure—
In Him alone we are secure! —Fitzhugh

Safety is not found in the absence of danger,
but in the presence of God.
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  #1193  
Old 11-12-2011, 04:19 AM
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Default Nov. 12

The Road To Blessing

November 12, 2011

Read: Exodus 15:22-27

So [Moses] cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. —Exodus 15:25

Robyn and Steve have a counseling ministry that provides very little income. Recently, a family crisis forced them to embark on a 5,000-mile round trip in their well-used minivan.

After attending to the crisis, they started back to Michigan. While about 2,000 miles from home, their van began to sputter and stall. A mechanic looked at it and told them, “It’s done. You need a new engine.”

Unable to afford one, they had no choice but to coax the van home. Three days, a case of oil, and a lot of prayers later, they miraculously limped into their driveway. Then they heard of a “car missionary” who assisted people in ministry. Amazed that the van had made it, he offered to replace the engine free of charge. If Steve had gotten the van fixed en route, it would have cost him thousands of dollars he didn’t have.

In Exodus 15, the Israelites were led by God into the desert. Three days into their trip, they ran out of water and had no way to get it. But God knew about the problem. In fact, a solution awaited them in Marah (v.25) and Elim (v.27). God not only fixed their water problem but also provided a place to rest.

Even when our situation looks difficult, we can trust that God is leading. He already knows what we’ll need when we get there.

I know not by what methods rare
The Lord provides for me;
I only know that all my needs
He meets so graciously. —Adams

Facing an impossibility gives us the opportunity to trust God.
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  #1194  
Old 11-13-2011, 04:06 AM
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Default Nov. 13

Be Who You Are

November 13, 2011

Read: 1 Peter 3:8-17

Even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. —1 Peter 3:14

While awaiting a routine medical procedure in a local hospital, I noticed a wall plaque showing Christ on a cross. Later, a nurse asked me several administrative questions, in-cluding, “Do you have any spiritual needs you’d like to discuss with a chaplain?” I said that I appreciated her asking that question, which I found unusual in today’s world. She replied with a smile that they are a faith-based hospital and “that’s part of our mission.” I was impressed that the people were not afraid to be who they are in an increasingly secular and pluralistic society.

Peter urged the first-century believers who had been scattered by persecution and were living in a hostile world to consider it a blessing to suffer for the sake of what is right. “But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:14-15 NLT).

Just as the woman at the hospital freely stated their faith, so we can express ours. And if we are criticized or treated unfairly because of our belief in Christ, we should respond with gentleness and respect. We should never be afraid to be who we are in Him.

Whenever people judge and say
They don’t like what we believe,
We need to show a Christlike grace—
Then our Lord they might receive. —Branon

It’s better to suffer for the cause of Christ
than for the cause of Christ to suffer.
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  #1195  
Old 11-14-2011, 04:54 AM
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Default Nov. 14

Grieving From A To Z

November 14, 2011

Read: Lamentations 3:25-33

Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion. —Lamentations 3:32

Jerusalem was engulfed in flames, and the prophet Jeremiah wept. His prediction of divine judgment had largely gone unheeded. Now his terrible prophecy had come to pass with horrifying vividness. The short book of Lamentations records the prophet’s grieving process over the destruction of Jerusalem.
Jeremiah organized the book around the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, using a technique of alphabetic acrostics to aid the reader in memorizing the passages more easily. But using this technique also shows that he didn’t cut short his grieving process. He took deliberate and intentional time to reflect upon and even to write down his heartbreak. You might say he was learning to grieve from A to Z.
In the midst of his grief, the comfort of God surfaced. Reminders of God’s sovereignty and goodness gave the prophet hope as he faced the future: “The Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies” (Lam. 3:31-32).
If you’ve recently experienced a painful loss, remember to take adequate time to grieve and to reflect upon God’s goodness. Then you will be able to experience His comfort and hope for the future.

To experience God’s comfort
While you’re suffering with grief,
Try to focus on God’s goodness,
And He’ll bring your heart relief. —Sper
God allows sorrows and tears today
to open our hearts to the joys of tomorrow.
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  #1196  
Old 11-15-2011, 01:50 AM
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Default Nov. 15

Baby Food

November 15, 2011

Read: Hebrews 5:12–6:2

Solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. —Hebrews 5:14

Have you ever tasted baby food? I have. It’s terribly bland. But babies have no other choice without teeth. They certainly can’t eat a nice, juicy steak!

Sadly, some Christians are content with spiritual baby food. They are happy to go over and over the simple truths of the Scriptures and don’t move beyond the basics of the gospel (Heb. 6:1-2). By not sinking their teeth into deeper truths and more difficult Bible passages, they lack biblical understanding and convictions to make right choices (5:13). They may have been Christians for many years, but their spiritual abilities remain underdeveloped. They remain babies.

As children grow physically, they learn to eat solid food that gives them strength and vitality. In the same way, every believer needs to take on the responsibility to feed himself on solid spiritual food. To fail to do this is to remain spiritually weak and undernourished.

You can roughly tell the physical age of people by how they look. Their spiritual age is revealed by their ability to distinguish good from evil and by their personal character that’s shown day by day.

Is this spiritual discernment evident in your life? Or are you still on spiritual baby food?

To handle the Word of truth
Takes diligence and care,
So make the time to study it
And then that truth declare. —Hess

Apply yourself to the Scriptures and the Scriptures to yourself.
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  #1197  
Old 11-16-2011, 02:01 AM
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Default Nov. 16

Beware!

November 16, 2011

Read: 1 John 2:18-27

You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. —1 John 2:18

When FBI agents train bank tellers to identify counterfeit bills, they show them both fake money and real money, and they study both. To detect a counterfeit problem, they must look for the differences in the genuine bill compared to the counterfeit—and not the similarities.

In 1 John 2, the apostle John helps to protect believers from heresy by showing them examples of counterfeit Christians and teachers. One of the signs of the last days is the coming of antichrists (1 John 2:18). Antichrists are those who claim to have His power and authority but don’t, or those who reject and oppose Him and His teachings.

John gave three marks of false teachers who are controlled by the spirit of the antichrists: They depart from the fellowship (v.19), they deny Jesus as the Messiah (v.22), and they draw the faithful away from Jesus (v.26). He encouraged believers to protect themselves against the spirit of the antichrists by depending on the indwelling presence of the Spirit, knowing the truth, and remaining in fellowship with Jesus.

We can protect ourselves from error and deception by knowing the false but relying on the Truth—Jesus Christ.

For Further Study
Find out how you can identify and protect yourself from
spiritual danger by reading Jude: Recognizing The
Danger Among Us at www.discoveryseries.org/q0909

Beware: The devil may add a few grains of truth to what is false.
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  #1198  
Old 11-17-2011, 01:48 AM
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Default Nov. 17

A Companion On The Road

November 17, 2011

Read: Matthew 4:18-22

Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers . . . . Then He said to them, “Follow Me.” —Matthew 4:18-19

I love to walk Idaho’s paths and trails and enjoy its grandeur and picturesque beauty. I’m often reminded that these treks are symbolic of our spiritual journey, for the Christian life is simply walking—with Jesus alongside as our companion and guide. He walked through the land of Israel from one end to the other, gathering disciples, saying to them, “Follow Me” (Matt. 4:19).

The journey is not always easy. Sometimes giving up seems easier than going on, but when things get difficult, we can rest a while and renew our strength. In Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan describes the arbor on Hill Difficulty where Christian caught his breath before continuing the climb. His scroll provided comfort, reminding him of the Lord’s continual presence and sustaining power. He got a second wind so he could walk a few more miles.

Only God knows where the path will take us, but we have our Lord’s assurance, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). This is not a metaphor or other figure of speech. He is real company. There is not one hour without His presence, not one mile without His companionship. Knowing He’s with us makes the journey lighter.

When life becomes a heavy load
An upward climb, a winding road,
In daily tasks, Lord, let me see
That with me You will always be. —D. De Haan

As you travel life’s weary road, let Jesus lift your heavy load.
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  #1199  
Old 11-18-2011, 03:00 AM
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Default Nov. 18

Becoming Bilingual

November 18, 2011

Read: Acts 17:19-31

In Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, “For we are also His offspring.” —Acts 17:28

Is it possible—in a society that seems increasingly indifferent to the gospel—to communicate the Good News to people who don’t share our faith?

One way to connect with people who are unfamiliar with the things of Christ is to become culturally “bilingual.” We do this by communicating in ways people can easily relate to. Knowing about and discussing music, film, sports, and television, for example, can offer just such an opportunity. If people hear us “speak their language,” without endorsing or condoning the media or events we refer to, it could open the door to sharing the timeless message of Christ.

Paul gave us an example of this in Acts 17. While visiting the Areopagus in Athens, he spoke to a thoroughly secular culture by quoting pagan Greek poets as a point of reference for the spiritual values he sought to communicate. He said, “In Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring’” (Acts 17:28). Just as Paul addressed that culture by knowing what they were reading, we may have greater impact for the gospel by relating it to people in terms they can readily embrace.

Are you trying to reach a neighbor or a co-worker with the gospel? Try becoming bilingual.

To earn your neighbor’s ear
And prove you really care,
Use terms he understands
To show you are aware. —Branon

The content of the Bible must be
brought into contact with the world.
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  #1200  
Old 11-19-2011, 03:32 AM
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Default Nov. 19

When God Cleans House

November 19, 2011

Read: Jonah 1

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. —Ephesians 4:31

God did some fall housecleaning this week. He sent a mighty wind through our neighborhood that made the trees tremble and shake loose their dead branches. When it finished, I had a mess to clean up.

In my own life, God sometimes works in a similar way. He will send or allow stormy circumstances that shake loose the “lifeless branches” I’ve been refusing to release. Sometimes it’s something that once was good, like an area of ministry, but is no longer bearing fruit. More often it’s something that’s not good, like a bad habit I’ve slid into or a stubborn attitude that prevents new growth.

The Old Testament prophet Jonah discovered what can happen when one refuses to get rid of a stubborn attitude. His hatred for the Ninevites was stronger than his love for God, so God sent a great storm that landed Jonah in a giant fish (Jonah 1:4,17). God preserved the reluctant prophet in that unlikely place and gave him a second chance to obey (2:10; 3:1-3).

The lifeless limbs in my yard caused me to think of attitudes that God expects me to dispose of. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians lists some of them: bitterness, anger, and evil speech (4:31). When God shakes things up, we need to get rid of what He shakes loose.

Lord, give me a listening heart and help me
to cooperate with You when You
point out changes that need to be made in my life.
I want to honor You and please You. Amen.

Christ’s cleansing power can remove
the most stubborn stain of sin.
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