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  #1241  
Old 12-29-2011, 02:38 AM
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Default Dec. 29

Yet I Will Rejoice

December 29, 2011

Read: Habakkuk 3:11-19

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. —Habakkuk 3:18

Life in our world can be difficult. At some point, most of us have wondered, Where is God in my trouble? And we may have thought, It seems like injustice is winning and God is silent. We have a choice as to how we respond to our troubles. The prophet Habakkuk had an attitude worth following: He made the choice to rejoice.

Habakkuk saw the rapid increase in Judah’s moral and spiritual failings, and this disturbed him deeply. But God’s response troubled him even more. God would use the wicked nation of Babylon to punish Judah. Habakkuk did not fully understand this, but he could rejoice because he had learned to rely on the wisdom, justice, and sovereignty of God. He concluded his book with a wonderful affirmation: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (3:18). Though it was not clear how Judah would survive, Habakkuk had learned to trust God amid injustice, suffering, and loss. He would live by his faith in God alone. With this kind of faith came joy in God, despite the circumstances surrounding him.

We too can rejoice in our trials, have surefooted confidence in God, and live on the heights of His sovereignty.

Be this the purpose of my soul
My solemn, my determined choice:
To yield to God’s supreme control,
And in my every trial rejoice. —Anon.

Praising God in our trials turns burdens into blessings.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1242  
Old 12-30-2011, 01:38 AM
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Default Dec. 30

Playing Your Part

December 30, 2011

Read: Romans 12:1-8

We have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function. —Romans 12:4


For the past several years, my daughter Rosie has been the director of drama at a local middle school. Students come to audition and a few are selected to play the lead roles. But there are still many other important supporting roles that must be cast—roles that are vital to the production.

There are other young people who want to be a part of the show but don’t relish being in the spotlight. They are the ones who will change scenery, open and close the curtains, run the lights, and assist with makeup and costume changes. Then there are the parents from the community who provide pizza and cookies for rehearsals, donate goods, build sets, sew costumes, make signs, and hand out programs.

The success of the performances are the culmination of an intense 4- to 5-month process that is dependent on the hard work of a wide range of dedicated volunteers.

Similarly, for the body of Christ to function fully, each of us must play a part. Every believer is uniquely gifted for service. When these gifts are combined in a cooperative relationship, “every part does its share” (Eph. 4:16), and the separate parts make up the whole (Rom. 12:5).

We need each other. What part are you playing in the life of the church?

For the church to function fully,
We must all fulfill our role;
While the Spirit’s gifts are many,
They combine to serve the whole. —Sper

For a church to be healthy,
its members must exercise their spiritual gifts.
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  #1243  
Old 12-31-2011, 02:42 AM
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Default Dec. 31

Reflections

December 31, 2011

Read: Psalm 40:1-5

He also brought me up out of a horrible pit . . . and set my feet upon a rock. —Psalm 40:2

Not long ago, I passed a milestone marking 20 years since I began keeping a spiritual journal. As I reread my first few entries, I was amazed I ever kept it up. But now you couldn’t pay me to stop!
Here are some benefits I have received from journaling: From life experiences, I see that progress and failure are both part of the journey. I’m reminded of God’s grace when I read how He helped me to find a solution to a major problem. I gain insight from past struggles that help with issues I am currently facing. And, most important, journaling shows me how God has been faithfully working in my life.
Many of the psalms are like a spiritual journal. They often record how God has helped in times of testing. In Psalm 40, David writes: “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps” (vv.1-2). Later, David needed only to read that psalm to be reminded of God’s faithful deliverance.
Journaling may be useful to you too. It can help you see more clearly what God is teaching you on life’s journey and cause you to reflect on God’s faithfulness.

For Further Thought
To begin a journal: Record your struggles, reflect on a
verse that is especially comforting or challenging, or
write a prayer of thankfulness for God’s faithfulness.
Reflecting on God’s faithfulness in the past
brings hope for the future.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1244  
Old 01-01-2012, 03:49 AM
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Default Jan. 1

Let’s Be Ready

January 1, 2012

Read: 1 John 2:28–3:3

Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself. —1 John 3:3

Happy New Year! Looking forward to what this new year might bring, I can’t help but wonder if 2012 will be the year when Jesus comes back. But then I also wonder if I’m ready.
All of my life I’ve had to “be ready.” As a child, I had to be ready for dinner by washing my hands. As an adult, being ready for important responsibilities continues to be an ongoing reality. But I’ve come to realize that nothing is more important than being ready for our reunion with Jesus.
Speaking of Christ’s return, John tells us that “everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself” (1 John 3:3). Looking forward to Jesus’ return fills us with hope—not a wish-list kind of hope, but a solid expectation that motivates us to keep our hearts from sinful distractions and rivets our attention on becoming more like Him. If we really believe that this might be the year of His return, we will be more ready to forgive, to seek forgiveness, and to share God’s unconditional love with others.
As we consider the possibility that Jesus could return this year, let’s be sure that we are ready. Let’s strive to be pure as He is pure, anticipating the day when tears and sorrow, pain and death will all be replaced with the everlasting joy of His presence.

Expecting Jesus’ soon return
Will help us live a life that’s pure;
For if we’re ready when He comes,
We will not be ashamed but sure. —Sper
Wanting to be ready for Christ’s return will make a difference in the way we live.
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  #1245  
Old 01-02-2012, 02:09 AM
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Default Jan. 2

Don’t Laugh It Off

January 2, 2012

Read: Luke 6:27-36

Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. —Luke 6:35

Driving a huge truck over the icy roads of northern Alaska would seem to be a task that requires a sense of humor. But when one driver heard another driver named Alex laugh often and rather loudly over the truck-to-truck communication system, he grew irritated. So he made some disparaging remarks about Alex and his good-natured guffaws.
Not long after that, the critical driver lost control of his big rig and ended up in a ditch—up to his axles in snow. And guess who came along the isolated road and saw his predicament? That’s right. Alex.
So, what would you do? Keep on trucking right past with a hearty laugh at the other guy’s trouble? That’s not what Alex did. He stopped and spent several hours helping dig his critic out. When he was done, he simply said, “Any opportunity I can have to make amends, I’m happy to do it.” And then, of course, he laughed.
What a lesson for all of us. Isn’t that what Christ commanded us to do in Luke 6—to help out even those who seem to be our enemies? The next time someone says something about you that you don’t like, think of Alex—and don’t just laugh it off. Do something positive for that person, and in so doing, you may make a friend.

Doing good to those who hate us,
Lord, is difficult to do;
Help us by Your grace to love them,
Praying they will turn to You. —Sper
A good example is the best sermon.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1246  
Old 01-03-2012, 02:45 AM
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Default Jan. 3

The Pursuit

January 3, 2012

Read: Proverbs 2:1-9

. . . seek [wisdom] as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures. —Proverbs 2:4

When my husband, Carl, pursued a relationship with me while we were dating, he was serious about it. He called. He wrote notes. He asked thoughtful questions. He bought me flowers, candy, books, dinner, and other gifts. He spent a lot of time and effort in his pursuit of me.

Way back in the 10th century bc, Solomon recommended that kind of serious commitment when pursuing something else—wisdom. A dictionary definition of wisdom, “understanding what is true, right, or lasting,” sounds crucial if we want a life that glorifies our holy God.

Maybe that’s why Solomon used so many active verbs in Proverbs 2 to describe our needed efforts to gain wisdom. He said, “incline your ear,” “apply your heart,” “cry out,” “lift up your voice,” “seek her,” “search for her” (vv.2-4).

Seeking wisdom takes effort, and Scripture tells us where it can be found: “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” He isn’t storing up wisdom for Himself; “He stores up sound wisdom for the upright” (vv.6-7).

Seek God with all your heart. He is the source of all wisdom for your life.

What will it profit when life here is o’er,
Though great worldly wisdom I gain,
If seeking knowledge I utterly fail
The wisdom of God to obtain? —Nelson

You can acquire much knowledge,
but true wisdom comes only from God.
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  #1247  
Old 01-04-2012, 02:22 AM
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Default Jan. 4

An Exercise In Godliness

January 4, 2012

Read: 1 Timothy 4:6-11

Bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things. —1 Timothy 4:8

The New Year is often the time when we resolve to take better care of ourselves—to exercise, eat right, and perhaps shed some of the pounds we gained over the holidays. Paul says, “Exercise profits a little” (1 Tim. 4:8), so I struggle to be as fit as I can be. I try to eat right, more or less, though I do love fried chicken. I lift weights and walk, but I know that my body is not long for this world. Its strength is fading.

It’s better to concentrate on godliness, because it holds promise for this life and the life to come (v.8). Contrary to the old adage, we can take something with us after all.

Godliness may sound dull, scary, and unattainable, but the essence of godliness is simply self-giving love—caring more for others than we care for ourselves. This kind of love is hard to come by, but it’s one that grows in the presence of love. We grow loving and more lovely by sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him, talking things over—gaining in likeness to the One who is love (1 John 4:8).

Life is a journey into love, it seems to me, and there’s nothing so beautiful as a godly soul. Physical exercise is good, no doubt, but there is something far, far better: It is to love.

That I may love Him is my soul’s ambition—
Love Him with all my mind and strength and heart,
Seek out His will and choose it, in submission,
And with the joy He only can impart. —Anon.

Love is godliness in action.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1248  
Old 01-05-2012, 01:05 AM
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Default Jan. 5

Facing The Future

January 5, 2012

Read: James 4:13-

If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that. —James 4:15

While going through some old files, I came across a 1992 special issue of TIME magazine titled “Beyond the Year 2000: What To Expect in the New Millennium.” It was fascinating to read the predictions made 2 decades ago about what the future would hold. Some general observations were on target, but no one foresaw many of the events and innovations that have radically changed our lives. The most telling statement to me was, “The first rule of forecasting should be that the unforeseen keeps making the future unforeseeable.”

James reminds us that any view of the future that omits God is foolish and proud. “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. . . . Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that’” (James 4:13-15).

Many people used to begin their statement of plans with, “Lord willing.” The phrase may have become trite, but the acknowledgment of God’s overruling hand is not.

As we look ahead with God firmly in view, we can face the future with confidence in His loving plan.

God holds the future in His hands
With grace sufficient day by day,
Through good or ill He gently leads,
If we but let Him have His way. —Rohrs

Those who know Christ as Savior can face the future with joy.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1249  
Old 01-06-2012, 01:40 AM
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Default Jan. 6

Longing For Home

January 6, 2012

Read: Philippians 1:21-30

I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. —Philippians 1:23

When our son Stephen was a youngster, he went away for a week at a Christian summer camp. Later that week, we got a letter from him that was addressed to “Mom and Dad Crowder” and simply said, “Please come and take me home today.” What his child’s mind couldn’t comprehend, of course, was that it would be days before we got his letter and more time before we could come for him. All his young heart knew was that he longed for home and for Mom and Dad—and that can be tough for a child.

Sometimes we can be like Stephen as we think about this world. It’s easy to think longingly about being with Jesus and begin to wish we could go to our “eternal home” (Eccl. 12:5) where we will “be with Christ” (Phil. 1:23). As God’s children (John 1:12), we know that this world will never truly be home to us. Like the apostle Paul, we especially feel that way when the struggles of life are hard. While in Rome awaiting trial, Paul wrote, “I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Phil. 1:23). He loved serving Christ, but a part of him longed to be with the Savior.

It’s comforting to know that we can think ahead to being with Jesus—in a home that is far better.

To see His face, this is my goal;
The deepest longing of my soul;
Through storm and stress my path I’ll trace
Till, satisfied, I see His face! —Chisholm

There is no place like home—especially when home is heaven.
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  #1250  
Old 01-07-2012, 03:37 AM
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Default Jan. 7

Collision Course

January 7, 2012

Read: 2 Samuel 12:1-15

Be sure your sin will find you out. —Numbers 32:23

My wife and I were driving on an expressway when we saw a driver turn left into a median turnaround that was intended for emergency vehicles only. He was planning to make a U-turn and head back the other way.
Looking to his right, the driver waited for an opening in oncoming traffic, so he failed to notice that a police car was backing up toward him on his left. Finally seeing an opening in traffic, the U-turn driver pulled out and rammed into the back of the police car.
It’s not unusual for us to think we can get away with doing something wrong. After King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, he too was focused on “getting away with it.” But he was on a collision course with Nathan. His adultery, deceit, and murder “displeased the Lord” (2 Sam. 11:27), so when Nathan exposed David’s grievous sin, the king was deeply remorseful. He confessed, repented, and received God’s forgiveness. But the consequences of his sin never departed from his household (12:10).
If you’ve been trying to get away with something, remember that “your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). Turn yourself in to God. Don’t hide. Instead, seek His gracious forgiveness.

God knows all you’ve thought or done—
From Him you cannot hide;
Confess to Him and He’ll forgive
Through Christ the crucified. —Hess
We have to face our sins before we can put them behind us.
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