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  #1211  
Old 11-30-2011, 01:40 AM
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Default Nov. 30

Actions And Results

November 30, 2011

Read: Romans 5:12-19

If by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. —Romans 5:15

On November 24, 1971, a man known today as D. B. Cooper hijacked a commercial flight between Portland and Seattle by threatening to blow up the plane unless he received $200,000. After landing to receive a ransom, he ordered the plane back into the air. Then the rear stairs of the 727 aircraft were lowered, and he parachuted into the night. He was never captured, and the case is still unsolved. This act hastened the age of airport security in which trust and confidence have been replaced by suspicion and fear. What he did affected us all.

The Bible describes two actions that changed the world in a far more significant way. Through Adam’s choice, sin and death entered the world, “and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). But through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, God provided a remedy for the results of sin. “Through one man’s [Adam’s] offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s [Christ’s] righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (v.18).

Christ did what no one else could do when He broke the power of sin and death by His resurrection. He offers forgiveness and eternal life to all who will accept His gift. And for that, we thank Him with all our hearts.

When Adam sinned, death spread to all—
One act condemned the human race—
But Jesus’ death upon the cross
Provides mankind God’s saving grace. —Sper

The cross of Christ can cure the condemnation of Adam’s choice.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1212  
Old 12-01-2011, 01:25 AM
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Default Dec. 1

Advent Themes

December 1, 2011

Read: 1 Peter 1:3-5,13-21

Rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. —1 Peter 1:13

I believe that all Scripture is related and all Scripture is relevant. Nevertheless, I was surprised when my November reading in the book of 1 Peter touched on all four themes of Advent—that period of time on the church calendar when many Christians prepare to celebrate the first coming of Christ while looking forward to His second coming. During Advent, we emphasize hope, peace, joy, and love, which God sent with Christ.

HOPE. We have an inheritance reserved in heaven, a living hope through the resurrection of Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3-5).

PEACE. We will love life and see good days if we turn from evil and do good and if we seek peace, for the Lord watches over the righteous and hears their prayers (3:10-12).

JOY. We have inexpressible joy even though we have trials because our faith is being tested and proven genuine. The end of this faith is the salvation of our souls (1:6-9).

LOVE. We can love one another with a pure heart because we have been born again through the Word of God which lives and abides forever (1:22-23).

Because Christ came the first time, we can live with hope, peace, joy, and love till He comes again.

The hope we have in Jesus Christ
Brings joy into our heart;
And when we know the love of God,
His peace He will impart. —Sper

If you’re looking for hope, peace, joy, and love this Christmas season, look to God.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1213  
Old 12-02-2011, 02:23 AM
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Default Dec. 2

Never Too Busy

December 2, 2011

Read: Psalm 145:8-21

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. —Psalm 145:18

College students rent a house from my sister and her husband. One night, a thief attempted to break in. When the young woman living there called the police to tell them that a break-in was in progress, the operator responded in an unusual way: “You’ll have to call back in the morning. We’re just too busy right now.” That response was very disturbing! The young woman had done the right thing by calling the police, but for some reason her plea for help was disregarded. That kind of indifference is upsetting.

But indifference never happens when we go to God in prayer. We may not always feel that God is listening, but He is. He cares, and He will respond. The Bible reminds us that we can take comfort in the fact that our God is deeply concerned with what concerns our hearts: “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Ps. 145:18). When we call out to Him, we will never get a disinterested response.

Rather than distancing Himself from us when we cry to Him, our heavenly Father draws close to us in our time of need. He is never too busy for His child’s prayers—He hears us when we call.

For answered prayer we thank You, Lord,
We know You’re always there
To hear us when we call on You;
We’re grateful for Your care. —Branon

You’ll never get a busy signal on the prayer line to heaven.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1214  
Old 12-03-2011, 02:10 AM
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Default Dec. 3

Sandcastles

December 3, 2011

Read: Luke 12:22-34

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. —Luke 12:34

When our kids were young, my wife Martie and I enjoyed family vacations in Florida visiting our parents. It was especially wonderful to be there in the warmth for a brief respite from the Michigan wind-chill factor. I couldn’t wait to just relax on the beach with a good book. But my kids had other ideas. They wanted my help building sandcastles. Reluctantly, I’d get up to help, only to be quickly consumed by the project at hand. Before I knew it, I had spent hours creating an impressive castle—not thinking that it was only a matter of time until the tide would wash away all my hard work.

We often make the same mistake in life, spending lots of time and energy building our own little “castles” of stuff and basking in our accomplishments. It all may seem worthwhile, but in the end it’s worthless.

In Luke 12, Jesus challenged His followers to sell their possessions and give to the poor, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v.34). In other words, the way we spend our time and resources says a lot about our eternal perspective. As the old hymn goes, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” So what have you done today that will last for eternity?

Who measures how we’ve done in life
And judges our success?
Our God, who gives rewards to those
Who live in righteousness. —Branon

God wants you to spend your time and treasure building His kingdom, not your own.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1215  
Old 12-04-2011, 04:54 AM
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Default Dec. 4

Peace

December 4, 2011

Read: Colossians 1:19-29

You, who once were alienated . . . now He has reconciled. —Colossians 1:21

In the days of Adam and Eve, peace was lost. As soon as they ate the forbidden fruit and realized their nakedness, they started blaming each other (Gen. 3:12-13) and introduced conflict to God’s peaceful planet. Sadly, all of their descendants, including us, have followed their bad example. We blame others for our own bad choices and become angry when no one will accept the guilt. Blaming others for our unhappiness breaks apart families, churches, communities, and nations. We can’t make peace because we’re preoccupied with placing the blame.

Christmas is the season of peace. The Old Testament tells the story of how God set the stage to introduce the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6). Jesus came to break the cycle of sin and blame by making peace for us with God “through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:20). Instead of blaming us for all the trouble we cause, He bore the blame for all of us. He is now recruiting followers who, having received His forgiveness, want others to receive it as well.

When we accept forgiveness from God, we lose our desire to withhold it from others. And when we live in peace with God, we are eager to make peace with others. We can both give and receive the gift of peace this Christmas.

At Christmastime we celebrate
The coming of the Prince of Peace;
Though now our world is locked in strife,
One day He’ll make all conflict cease. —Sper

Jesus took our place to give us His peace.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1216  
Old 12-05-2011, 02:32 AM
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Default Dec. 5

Well-Loved

December 5, 2011

Read: 1 John 4:7-21

We love Him because He first loved us. —1 John 4:19

A friend described his grandmother as one of the greatest influences in his life. Throughout his adult years, he has kept her portrait next to his desk to remind himself of her unconditional love. “I really do believe,” he said, “that she helped me learn how to love.”

Not everyone has had a similar taste of human love, but through Christ each of us can experience being well-loved by God. In 1 John 4, the word love occurs 27 times, and God’s love through Christ is cited as the source of our love for God and for others. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (v.10). “We have known and believed the love that God has for us” (v.16). “We love Him because He first loved us” (v.19).

God’s love is not a slowly dripping faucet or a well we must dig for ourselves. It is a rushing stream that flows from His heart into ours. Whatever our family background or experiences in life—whether we feel well-loved by others or not—we can know love. We can draw from the Lord’s inexhaustible source to know His loving care for us, and we can pass it on to others.

In Christ our Savior, we are well-loved.

Loved with everlasting love,
Led by grace that love to know—
Spirit, breathing from above,
Thou hast taught me it is so! —Robinson

Nothing is more powerful than God’s love.
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  #1217  
Old 12-06-2011, 01:03 AM
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Default Dec. 6

Fret-Free Living

December 6, 2011

Read: Psalm 37:1-11

Do not fret—it only causes harm. —Psalm 37:8

Does it bother you to see how much attention is paid in today’s culture to people who stand for all the wrong things? Perhaps it is entertainment stars who get the headlines while espousing immoral philosophies in their music, movies, or programs. Or it could be leaders who openly thumb their noses at right-living standards.

It would be easy to fret about this and wring our hands in despair, but Psalm 37 suggests a better way. Listen to David’s wise advice: “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity” (v.1).

While it is right to be “salt and light” (Matt. 5:13-14) in this tasteless, dark world—attempting to counter sin by reflecting Jesus’ light wherever possible—we cannot let negative forces cause us to live in anger and wrath (Ps. 37:8). Instead, we must rely on God to have the ultimate say about evildoers: “They shall soon be cut down like the grass” (v.2). Beyond that, we should take David’s approach: (1) “Trust in the Lord, and do good.” (2) “Feed on His faithfulness.” (3) “Delight yourself also in the Lord.” (4) “Commit your way to the Lord.” (5) “Rest in the Lord” (vv.3-7).

We may not like what we see and hear from some aspects of society, but remember this: God is in control. Trust Him to do what is right. And don’t fret.

When tragedy, heartache, and sorrow abound,
When evil appears to have conquered the right,
We center our heart on our Father’s great love,
For He will bring hope in the darkest of night. —D. De Haan

Don’t despair because of evil; God will have the last word.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1218  
Old 12-07-2011, 01:50 AM
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Default Dec. 7

This Do In Remembrance

December 7, 2011

Read: 1 Corinthians 11:23-34

When [Jesus] had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you.” —1 Corinthians 11:24

When a US Navy vessel arrives or departs from the military bases in Pearl Harbor, the crew of that ship lines up in dress uniform. They stand at attention at arm’s length on the outer edges of the deck, in salute to the soldiers, sailors, and civilians who died on December 7, 1941. It is a stirring sight, and participants often list it among the most memorable moments of their military career.

Even for spectators on shore, the salute triggers an incredible emotional connection, but especially between the servants of today and the servants of yesterday. It grants nobility to the work of today’s sailor, while giving dignity to the sacrifice of those from the past.

When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:26-29), it was surely with an eye toward creating this same kind of emotional bond. Our participation in the Lord’s Table honors His sacrifice while also granting us a connection to Him unlike any other act of remembrance.

Just as the Navy carefully prescribes the way it salutes the fallen, so too Scripture teaches us how to remember Jesus’ sacrifice (1 Cor. 11:26-28). These acts of reverence and thanksgiving serve to honor past action while giving purpose to present service.

Action Suggestion:
Read with fresh eyes the detailed instructions Scripture
offers for the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11, and
experience anew its power in your spiritual journey.

The Lord’s Supper— Christ’s memorial that He left for us.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1219  
Old 12-08-2011, 01:32 AM
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Default Dec. 8

Only A Sketch

December 8, 2011

Read: 1 Corthians 13:8-12

Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. —1 Corinthians 13:12

In The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis tells the story of a woman who gave birth to a son while confined as a prisoner in a dungeon. Since the boy had never seen the outside world, his mother tried to describe it by making pencil drawings. Later when he and his mother were released from prison, the simple pencil sketches were replaced by the actual images of our beautiful world.

In a similar way, the inspired picture the Bible gives us of heaven will someday be replaced by joyful, direct experience. Paul understood that our perception of heaven is limited until one day in the future when we will be in Christ’s presence. “Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Cor. 13:12). Yet Paul’s confidence in future glory gave him strength in the midst of trial: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).

Our current idea of the glories of heaven is only a simple sketch. But we can be completely confident in Jesus’ claim that He has gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:1-3). The best is yet to come!

Sometimes I grow homesick for heaven
And the glories I there shall behold;
What a joy that will be when my Savior I see
In that beautiful city of gold! —Anon.

Now we see Jesus in the Bible,
but one day we’ll see Him face to face.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1220  
Old 12-09-2011, 01:46 AM
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Default Dec. 9

What Shall I Give You?

December 9, 2011

Read: 1 Kings 3:1-9

God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” —1 Kings 3:5

I’ve been told that “three-wish stories” occur in almost every culture, all following a similar theme: A benefactor appears and offers to grant three wishes to an unsuspecting beneficiary. The fact that the stories so often occur suggests we all want something we cannot get on our own.

There’s even a “wish story” in the Bible. It happened one night when the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and said to him, “Ask! What shall I give you?” (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon could have asked for anything—riches, honor, fame, or power. But he asked for none of these things. He requested “an understanding heart” (v.9), or a “hearing heart,” a humble heart to listen and learn from God’s Word. The young, inexperienced king, weighed down with the responsibilities of ruling a vast nation, needed the Lord’s wisdom to govern well.

Am I that wise? If God spoke to me directly and asked what He could do for me, what would I ask for? Would I ask for health, wealth, youth, power, or prestige? Or would I ask for wisdom, holiness, and love? Would I be wise or foolish?

Suppose God asked you what He could give to you. What would you ask for?

True wisdom is in leaning
On Jesus Christ, our Lord;
True wisdom is in trusting
His own life-giving Word. —Anon.

God’s wisdom is given to those who humbly ask Him for it.
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