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  #1251  
Old 01-08-2012, 03:44 AM
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Default Jan. 8

Birthday Giveaway

January 8, 2012

Read: 1 Chronicles 29:1-14

God loves a cheerful giver. —2 Corinthians 9:7

When I reminded my husband that his 39th birthday was just around the corner, he declared that he didn’t want any presents. Yeah, right, I thought, and I continued to press him for gift ideas. That’s when he told me he wanted to give away the money we would have spent on his birthday.
The Bible calls us to give willingly—not grudgingly or of necessity—to support God’s work and to help people (2 Cor. 9:7). This kind of freewill giving often results in joy for the giver. When King David donated his personal stash of gold and silver to help build the temple, many Israelite officials followed his example. After they contributed bronze, iron, gemstones, and precious metal, “the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly” (1 Chron. 29:9).
As part of the celebration, David praised God, saying, “Of Your own we have given You” (v.14). His point was that God owns everything. Remembering this allows us to give eagerly, because we are just returning our resources to their rightful owner—God Himself.
The next time you contribute cash, services, or belongings to support the cause of Christ, examine your attitude. Are you giving freely and willingly? God loves a cheerful giver.

Lord, You love the cheerful giver,
Who with open heart and hand
Blesses freely, as a river
That refreshes all the land. —Murray
How we give is more important than how much we give.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1252  
Old 01-09-2012, 02:20 AM
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Default Jan. 9

Bless The Interruptions

January 9, 2012

Read: Psalm 33:10-15

The Lord . . . makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever. —Psalm 33:10-11

If your life is anything like mine, it’s pretty well planned out. I have a calendar that reminds me of appointments, meetings, and other “to-do” items. Inevitably, interruptions change my day dramatically; and while they can be frustrating, they also can be productive.
Some of the great advances in God’s plans have come through “interruptions” to the normal routine. Take Mary, for example. An angel interrupted her life with the announcement that she would have a son named Jesus. Since she was a virgin and engaged to be married, this news was undoubtedly shocking and deeply troubling (Luke 1:26-31). And Saul, the Jewish zealot who persecuted early Christians, was on his way to Damascus to arrest more followers of “the Way” when he was blinded by Jesus Himself (Acts 9:1-9). This life-changing interruption had huge implications for the future of Christianity.
The psalmist reminds us that the Lord can make “the plans of the peoples of no effect” (Ps. 33:10). Yet all too often we respond to the interruptions of our well-ordered lives with attitudes like frustration, irritation, fear, and doubt. God’s surprises in our day are full of opportunities. Let’s welcome them as a new “to-do list” from Him.

Lord, if I’m feeling rushed today,
I need Your eyes to help me see
That when an interruption comes,
It is an opportunity. —Sper
Look for God’s purpose in your next interruption.
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  #1253  
Old 01-10-2012, 02:58 AM
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Default Jan. 10

Surprised By God

January 10, 2012

Read: Ruth 2:17-23

The Lord . . . has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead! —Ruth 2:20

If Naomi had dreamed about returning to her former home prosperous and successful, entering Bethlehem would have been a nightmare. While living in a foreign land, she had lost her husband and two sons and returned with only her daughter-in-law Ruth and a heart full of sorrow. “Do not call me Naomi [pleasant]; call me Mara [bitter],” she told her former neighbors, “for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20).

But this wasn’t the end of the story. When the discouraged Naomi saw God’s hand in Ruth’s life, she said, “The Lord . . . has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!” (2:20). What appeared to be a dead-end had become a doorway for these two women who had lost so much.

The Old Testament book of Ruth is a wonderful story. The brief narrative is infused with an amazing sweetness and grace as “the Lord” is mentioned time after time.

Through Naomi and Ruth, we are reminded that God works in surprising ways to make His love known and to accomplish His purposes—even during difficult times.

God’s surprises continue so we can take heart. He has not stopped showing His kindness to you and me.

He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest. —Berg

What we see of God’s provisions teaches us to trust Him for what we cannot see of His purposes.
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  #1254  
Old 01-11-2012, 04:18 AM
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Default Jan. 11

A Perfect Fit

January 11, 2012

Read: Ephesians 2:1-10

Those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. —Titus 3:8

“What kind of skill set do you bring?” That question, posed in a job interview, was intended to determine if my friend would be a good fit for a position. My friend quickly did a mental review of his skills and talents, hoping to emphasize the unique characteristics he possessed that would contribute to the success of the company.

What if we already had the perfect set of skills required to accomplish what God wants us to do? Well—as a matter of fact—we do! The spiritual gifts we possess, along with our experiences, training, natural talents, and a submissive heart make up a unique individual who has the skills needed for the “good works” that God has “prepared beforehand” (Eph. 2:10). If God has something He wants to accomplish and that you feel He is calling you to do, He will provide what you need to complete the task. Or, as one paraphrase emphasizes, God wants us “to join Him in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for us to do” (Eph. 2:10 The Message). The one thing He requires of us is that we “be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2).

Have you found a place in God’s service where you can be used of Him? Let’s “do good” and “be rich in good works” (1 Tim. 6:18).

Think not that you are limited
Because of what you cannot do,
But think instead of all you have—
The talents God has given you. —D. De Haan

Spiritual gifts are meant to be used, not admired.
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  #1255  
Old 01-12-2012, 02:21 AM
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Default Jan. 12

Attracting The Lost

January 12, 2012

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:12-21

I have come as a light into the world. —John 12:46

My friend Anna often has people stop her on the street and ask for directions. This has happened to her even in countries where she is a foreigner. She wonders if it’s because she has an honest face and looks trustworthy. I suggested that perhaps it’s because she looks as if she knows where she’s going. Another friend said that maybe she attracts the lost.

All of those attributes should be true of God’s people in the spiritual sense. As believers, we have purpose and direction, we know where we’re going, and we know how to get there. This gives us confidence as we go about fulfilling God’s call in our lives. When this kind of confidence is evident to others, the lost will look to us for direction.

God has always maintained a presence on earth so that people could find Him. His first light for the world was the nation of Israel (Isa. 42:6). Then Solomon prayed that God’s great name would draw people to Himself (1 Kings 8:41-43). The light of the Jewish nation culminated in Jesus, “the light of the world” (John 9:5). And now, followers of Jesus are to be the light of the world (Matt. 5:14). As such, it is our responsibility to show people the way to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:18).

You are called with a holy calling
The light of the world to be;
To lift up the lamp of the Savior
That others His light may see. —Anon.

To lead others out of the darkness of sin, let them see your light.
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  #1256  
Old 01-13-2012, 02:19 AM
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Default Jan. 13

Unhook The Chain

January 13, 2012

Read: John 14:15-24

If you love Me, keep My commandments. —John 14:15

Jesus made it clear to His disciples that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He is the only way to the Father, and our belief and commitment to Him results in love and obedience—and leads to an eternal home in heaven.

Christina, a Bible student in Minsk, Belarus, wrote this testimony: “Jesus died for everyone, even the most desperate sinner. The worst criminal who comes to Him in faith, the Lord will accept.

“For a very long time, Jesus had been knocking at my door. Figuratively speaking, the door to my heart was open. I was a believer. But I kept the safety chain in place. I would not turn my life over to Him.”

Christina knew this was not right, and she felt that God was compelling her to make a change. “I knelt before Him and opened the door as wide as I could.” She took off the chain.

Committed followers of Jesus will do what He commands—without safety chains or back doors. No reserving little corners of our lives all for ourselves. No secret sins.

If, like Christina, you’ve been holding back from surrendering to God, it’s time to unhook that safety chain. Let go of those reservations. Throw open the doors of your life, and experience the joy of obedient discipleship.

Less of self and more of Jesus,
More and more each day like Thee;
Just to live in full surrender
For my Lord who ransomed me. —Wonder

No life is more secure than a life surrendered to God.
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  #1257  
Old 01-14-2012, 03:01 AM
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Default Jan. 14

Grieve Not The Spirit

January 14, 2012

Read: Ephesians 4:25-32

I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever. —John 14:16

If money were missing mysteriously from your wallet, you would be angry. But if you discovered that your child was the one who stole it, your anger would quickly turn into grief. One use of the word grief is to describe the sorrow we feel when those we love disappoint us.
“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30) essentially means not to hurt the One who loves us and is here to help us. For we read Jesus’ words in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit is sent to us by the Father to be our Helper.
When the Holy Spirit in us is grieved by our actions or attitudes, the result can be tremendous tension. The Spirit pulls us in one direction, but the lusts of the flesh pulls us in another. Paul describes this in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” If this continues, we may begin to feel guilty and dissatisfied with life. Soon, joy and vigor may diminish within us, only to be replaced by listlessness and lethargy (Ps. 32:3-4).
So do not grieve the Holy Spirit who was given in love to help you. “Put away” the bad choices of the flesh (Eph. 4:31), and live faithfully for God.

Holy Spirit, all divine,
Dwell within this heart of mine;
Cast down every idol throne,
Reign supreme and reign alone. —Reed
The Christian’s heart is the Spirit’s home.
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  #1258  
Old 01-15-2012, 02:47 AM
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Default Jan. 15

Each Life A Gift

January 15, 2012

Read: Psalm 139:1-16

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. —Psalm 139:14

A young woman was pregnant but unmarried. And even though she lived in a society that didn’t place a high value on unborn life, she wisely chose to allow her baby to live.
The child, whom she generously made available for adoption, became part of a loving Christian family who nurtured their precious daughter, loved her, and showed her the way to Christ.
Before that girl reached adulthood, however, she died. Her death left a massive void in her family’s life, but it also left behind memories of childhood joy and youthful enthusiasm. Sure, her death created a gaping hole in the hearts of all who loved her, but imagine what they would have missed had they never held her in their arms, shared Jesus with her, laughed with her, taught her, and cherished her.
Every life—every child—is a wonderfully made sample of God’s handiwork (Ps. 139). Every human is an image-bearing likeness of God (Gen. 1:27) and a descendant of our first God-breathed parent, Adam.
Death robs us of a certain completion we desire in a life, but it also reminds us of the value of each life God creates (Col. 1:16). Cherish the gift of life and savor the joy of God’s handiwork.

Every life has been created—
God’s handiwork displayed;
When we cherish His creation,
We value what He’s made. —Sper
All life is created by God and bears His autograph.
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  #1259  
Old 01-15-2012, 11:55 PM
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Default Jan. 16

The Book Of Nature

January 16, 2012

Read: Romans 1:18-24

Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. —Romans 1:20

Scottish-American John Muir (1838– 1914) was raised by a Christian father who placed great emphasis on Scripture memory. By young adulthood, John allegedly could recite from memory all of the New Testament and large portions of the Old Testament.
As a young man, Muir developed a great love for God’s creation and viewed it as a source for understanding God. Historian Dennis Williams says that Muir referred to creation as the “Book of Nature.” While exploring the wilderness, he was able to study the plants and animals in an environment that “came straight from the hand of God, uncorrupted by civilization and domestication.” Muir went on to lead the forest conservation movement and was instrumental in creating many US national parks, including Yosemite, Sequoia, and Mount Rainier.
To nurture the spiritual interest of children and youth, we should primarily focus on the Bible. But we can also take them to God’s outdoor classroom, where we can cultivate their love for the Creator by showing the majesty of creation: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Rom. 1:20).

O Lord, we can see all around us each day
The wisdom the creatures of nature display;
O help us to learn from Your marvelous world
The wonder and beauty Your hands have unfurled. —Bosch
In God’s pattern book of nature
we can trace many valuable lessons.
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  #1260  
Old 01-17-2012, 03:34 AM
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Default Jan. 17

A Time For Good Counsel

January 17, 2012

Read: Exodus 18:13-24

So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. —Exodus 18:24

Because of the busy lives many of us lead, it’s not hard to recognize ourselves in the over-extended situation of Moses in Exodus 18. As the sole judge for the masses, he was surrounded “from morning until evening” (v.13) by people who needed his help.

In fact, I’ve had people—particularly young parents—tell me that they identify with Moses. It seems that we need to learn two life skills for survival: an eagerness to listen (v.24) and the willingness to accept help (v.25). Sometimes we don’t accept help because of pride, but that’s not always the case.

With Moses, and often with us, it’s simply that life is moving so quickly and making so many demands on us (vv.13-15) that we barely have time to react—let alone to contemplate or go to someone else for advice. Perhaps this is one reason the Scriptures remind us to surround ourselves with counselors who will offer their experience and wisdom even when we’re too busy to ask for it. We see this in the story of what Jethro did for Moses when he told his son-in-law to delegate some of his responsibilities (vv.17-23).

Don’t be overwhelmed. Instead, seek godly counsel and then follow through on what you are told.

Lord, give us ears to hear advice
From loved ones wise and humble;
So when life’s challenges appear,
We will not have to stumble. —Sper

He who will not be counseled will not be helped.
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