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  #1201  
Old 11-20-2011, 06:43 AM
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Default Nov. 20

A Family Trait

November 20, 2011

Read: Matthew 5:9,38-48

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. —Matthew 5:9

There’s an old Sunday school song that periodically comes back to my mind. Its words testify to the blessing of the peace that Jesus so generously gives: “I have the peace that passes understanding down in my heart—down in my heart to stay!”

There is something missing in that well-intentioned song, however. The peace of God is truly a gift we enjoy in our hearts as we fellowship in His presence (John 14:27; 16:33). But He never intended for us to keep all of that peace to ourselves. Peace is a gift to be shared with those around us. As Christians, it should mark our relationships and characterize the environment of our churches.

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9), which indicates that we are to be intentional about bringing peace to our relationships. Since we are prone to be troublemakers instead of peacemakers, this is important advice. So, what does peacemaking look like? Peacemakers are those who turn the other cheek (v.39), go the extra mile (v.41), and love their enemies while praying for those who persecute them (v.44).

Why should we do this? Because God is a peacemaker, and when we make peace we are “called sons of God” (v.9). Peacemaking is a family trait.

Lord, thank You for the peace we have down in our
hearts. And that we can be peacemakers with others
through our attitude, words, and deeds.
Help me to show Your mercy and peace. Amen.

Because of the peace of God and peace with God,
we can be peacemakers for God.
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"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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  #1202  
Old 11-21-2011, 02:03 AM
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Default Nov. 21

The Craftsman’s Touch

November 21, 2011

Read: Exodus 31:1-5

We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. —Ephesians 2:10

I recently saw a documentary about the making of a Steinway piano. It traced the meticulous care that goes into crafting this fine instrument. From the cutting of trees until the piano appears on a showroom floor, it goes through countless delicate adjustments by skilled craftsmen. When the year-long process is complete, accomplished musicians play the piano and often comment on how the same rich sounds could never be produced by a computerized assembly line. The secret to the final product is the craftsman’s touch.

When the tabernacle was built, we see that God also valued the craftsman’s touch. He chose the craftsman Bezalel and said of him: “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood” (Ex. 31:3-5).

Today God dwells in the hearts of believers. Yet the call to craftsmanship has not ended. Now each individual believer is God’s “workmanship” (Eph. 2:10). The Master Craftsman is the Holy Spirit, who chips away at flaws in our character to make each of us like Jesus (Rom. 8:28-29). And as we yield to His workmanship, we will find that the secret to the final product is the Craftsman’s touch.

The Spirit is the Craftsman
Who makes us like the Son;
He’ll mold and shape our being
Until His work is done. —Sper

The Father gave us the Spirit to make us like His Son.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1203  
Old 11-22-2011, 12:53 AM
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Default Nov. 22

Unexpressed Gratitude

November 22, 2011

Read: Psalm 107:31-43

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! . . . Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. —Psalm 107:1-2

The whole reason for saying thanks is to let the giver of a gift know how much you appreciate something. Author G. B. Stern once said, “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.”

When our son was young, he sometimes needed to be reminded that avoiding eye contact, looking down at his feet, and mumbling some unintelligible words was not an acceptable “thank you.” And after many years of marriage, my husband and I are still learning that it’s important for us to continually express our gratitude to each other. When one of us feels appreciative, we try to verbalize it—even if we’ve said it many times before about the same thing. William Arthur Ward said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

Showing our gratitude is obviously important in human relationships, but it’s even more essential in our relationship with God. As we think about the many blessings we have received, do we express our thanks to Him throughout the day? And when we think of the amazing gift of His death and resurrection for forgiveness of our sins, do our hearts bubble over with awe and thanksgiving? (Rom. 6:23; 2 Cor. 9:15).

Take the reminder in Psalm 107:1 to heart each day: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!”

How great should be our gratitude
To God our unseen Friend!
The volume of His gifts to us
We cannot comprehend. —Hess

God’s highest Gift should awaken our deepest gratitude.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1204  
Old 11-23-2011, 01:35 AM
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Default Nov. 23

The World Of More

November 23, 2011

Read: Romans 5:1-11

Eye has not seen . . . the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. —1 Corinthians 2:9

My cable company sent a postcard inviting me to check out its latest improvements in TV channels. The card indicated that I needed to contact the company to get the necessary new digital equipment and explained how to hook it up and activate it. After that, the ad said I was just to “sit back and enjoy the World of More.”

The card made me think of the “World of More” that Christians are privileged to live in. When God transports people from the darkness of sin “into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9), a whole new life opens up.

Romans 5 tells us some of the more that we have in Christ: We have been “reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (v.10) and therefore have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.1). We have access to God and His grace (v.2). Rejoicing in trouble is now possible because we understand that it’s an opportunity to grow in our character through trusting Him (vv.3-4). Additionally, the Holy Spirit, who has been given to live in us, pours the love of God into our hearts (v.5). And sin no longer has the same hold on us (6:18).

As Christians, we have unlimited access to a real “World of More.” Wouldn’t it be selfish not to invite others to join us in that special world?

The world seeks fulfillment in
The pleasures they adore;
But those who follow Jesus Christ
Are given so much more. —Sper

Belonging to God brings boundless blessings.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1205  
Old 11-24-2011, 04:18 AM
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Default Nov. 24

Thanksgiving Pardon

November 24, 2011

Read: 1 John 1:1-10

The blood of Jesus Christ [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin. —1 John 1:7

Each year at the end of November, the President of the United States issues an official pardon for the National Thanksgiving Turkey. During this lighthearted ceremony, one president remarked: “Our guest of honor looks a little nervous. Nobody’s told him yet that I’m going to give him a pardon.” The poor turkey had a good reason to be uneasy—without an acquittal, he was doomed to be Thanksgiving dinner.

We are in a similar situation when it comes to our sin. Without God’s pardon, we’re on our way to certain demise. This condition is a direct result of our own wrongdoing. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). However, we can be set free from this death sentence because God’s Son bore our sin in His body on the cross, “that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). First John 1:7 tells us that Jesus’ blood “cleanses us from all sin.”

We can accept God’s pardon for our sin and receive eternal life when we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead (Rom. 10:9). Today, consider how you will respond to God’s offer of forgiveness.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide.
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow—
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! —Chisholm

Through faith in Christ,
we receive God’s pardon and escape sin’s penalty.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1206  
Old 11-25-2011, 02:41 AM
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Default Nov. 25

Finding Hope

November 25, 2011

Read: Psalm 42:1-11

Why are you cast down, O my soul? . . . Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him. —Psalm 42:5

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that almost 15 percent of American teenagers felt it was “highly likely” that they would die before their 35th birthday. Those with this pessimistic outlook were more likely to engage in reckless behavior. Dr. Iris Borowsky, author of the study published in Pediatrics magazine, said: “These youth may take risks because they feel hopeless and figure that not much is at stake.”

No one is immune to feelings of despair. The Psalms express repeated pleas for help when life seems dark. “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence” (Ps. 42:5 NASB). In a defiant step of faith, the psalmist tells himself not to forget about God, who will never forsake him.

Curtis Almquist has written: “Hope is fueled by the presence of God. . . . [It] is also fueled by the future of God in our lives.” We can say with the psalmist, “I shall yet praise Him” (v.5).

No follower of Christ should feel reluctant to seek counsel for depression. Nor should we feel that faith and prayer are too simplistic to help. There is always hope in God!

My sheep I know, they are My own,
I leave them not in trials alone;
I will be with them to the end,
Their Hope, their Joy, their dearest Friend. —Anon.

Hope for the Christian is a certainty— because its basis is Christ.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1207  
Old 11-26-2011, 05:43 AM
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Default Nov. 26

Singing Bowl

November 26, 2011

Read: Deuteronomy 4:32-40

We therefore ought to . . . become fellow workers for the truth. —3 John 1:8

Artist and scientist Michael Flynn designed a singing bowl for display in ArtPrize, an international art competition held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The bowl requires no electricity but it does require something that is in short supply: cooperation.
As I observed people trying to make the bowl sing, I was surprised that none of them bothered to read the directions about rocking it gently. Instead, impatient to make music, they kept trying their own ideas. After a few minutes they walked away frustrated and disappointed, as if the bowl was defective.
How many times, I wonder, do we become frustrated that life isn’t working the way we think it should? We keep trying ways that seem right, but things keep turning out wrong. Instead of following God’s Word, we continue trying to find our own way.
The singing bowl reminds us that we can’t expect life to go well if we ignore the instructions of the Designer (Deut. 4:40). Failing to obey divides us from one another and separates us from God. To fulfill His plan for the world and make the way of salvation known (Ps. 67:2), we need to follow His instructions about living and working peacefully together. When life doesn’t go well, it may be that we’ve stopped following God’s plan.

Sure it takes a lot of courage to put things in God’s hands,
To give ourselves completely, our lives, our hopes, our plans;
To follow where He leads us and make His will our own;
But all it takes is foolishness to go the way alone! —Kline
Life is a beautiful song that God is teaching us to play.
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  #1208  
Old 11-27-2011, 06:33 AM
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Default Nov. 27

Feeling Poor?

November 27, 2011

Read: Psalm 86

I am poor and needy. —Psalm 86:1

In one way or another, we can all relate to Psalm 86:1 where David says, “I am poor and needy.” Even the richest among us should understand that poverty and need relate more to the spirit than to the wallet. When billionaire Rich DeVos speaks to groups he often says, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.”
Psalm 86 tells us that the help God provides is not measured by a monetary ledger sheet. When we acknowledge that we are poor and needy, it’s not so God will lavish material riches on us. No, we do so to open the door to other, more valuable treasures.
Here’s what God does for the poor and needy. He will “preserve” our lives and “save” all those who trust in Him (v.2). He will be “merciful” and “ready to forgive” (vv.3,5). He will listen to and answer prayer (vv.6-7).
But we’re not to take God’s blessings without giving back. We have a responsibility to learn God’s ways, walk in His truth, “fear [God’s] name,” praise the Lord, and “glorify [His] name” (vv.11-12).
Do you consider yourself among the “poor and needy”? If so, welcome to the club. Let’s not forget all the spiritual blessings God has for us and the godly response we should have toward His generosity.

We’re thankful for the blessings, Lord,
You give us day by day;
Now help us show our gratitude
By walking in Your way. —Sper
The poorest man is he whose only wealth is money.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1209  
Old 11-28-2011, 12:48 AM
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Default Nov. 28

Just Do What’s Right

November 28, 2011

Read: Philippians 2:12-18

That you may become . . . children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. —Philippians 2:15

On a trip out of the country, I happened to meet an attorney who was from my hometown in New Jersey. We were surprised at how much we had in common. In the course of the conversation, he asked, “Did you say your name was Stillwell?” I said, “No, it’s Stowell.” He then mentioned that he had a client named Stillwell. “Is it Art Stillwell?” I asked, and, to my surprise, he said yes. Art Stillwell attended my church and was an influential businessman in the community.
The attorney admitted that he had no client quite like Art. He explained that most of his clients want him to do whatever it takes to get them out of their problems, but Art was different. Whenever he asked Art what to do in any given situation, Art always replied, “Just do what’s right!” Obviously it had made an impression on the attorney.
Yielding to Christ in all of our desires and decisions regardless of the outcome is what sets us apart in a world full of people consumed by their own interests. When we live blameless lives “without fault”—courageously reflecting the integrity, love, and grace of Jesus—we clearly “shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).
So, if you want to light up your world in a compelling way, just do what’s right!

Dim not, little candle,
Show Jesus through me!
Glow brightly till others
The Light clearly see! —Adams
Light up your world by reflecting the light of Jesus.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1210  
Old 11-29-2011, 02:59 AM
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Default Nov. 29

Honoring Your Parents

November 29, 2011

Read: Exodus 20:1-17

Honor your father and mother. —Ephesians 6:2

My dad recently turned 90 years old and his physical capabilities are fading. He can still move around with his walker, but he needs someone to cook his meals and help him with other tasks.

My older brother Steve and his wife Judy lived close to him, so they decided to move in with Dad to care for him. Wanting to help in some way, my wife and I flew across the country to help out a bit by watching Dad while my brother and his wife had some time away together. We enjoyed our time with my father and were glad to ease Steve and Judy’s load—even if it was only for a few days.

The Bible says to “honor your father and mother” (Eph. 6:2). One New Testament commentary says that to honor someone is to “treat him with the deference, respect, reverence, kindness, courtesy, and obedience which his station in life . . . demands.”

For young children, this means obeying parents. For teenagers, it indicates showing respect for Mom and Dad even if you think you know more than they do. For young adults, this means including your parents in your life. And for those in middle-age and beyond, it means making sure that parents are cared for as they move into old age or their health declines.

How can you honor your parents this week?

Don’t miss the opportunity
To honor and obey
The parents God has given you—
For they’ll be gone someday. —Sper

Honoring our parents has no age limit.
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