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  #1261  
Old 01-18-2012, 03:27 AM
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Default Jan. 18

Regaining Our Balance

January 18, 2012

Read: Ephesians 6:10-18

Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. —Ephesians 6:13

For the last few years, my wife, Marlene, has suffered from inner-ear problems that cause her to lose her equilibrium. Without warning, something inside her ear is upset and she becomes dizzy. If she tries to sit or stand, a condition called vertigo makes that impossible—and she has to lie down. No amount of effort can compensate for the power of the inner ear to disrupt and disturb. An active person, Marlene finds these unwelcome episodes frustrating.

Sometimes life is like that. Something unexpected upsets our routine, and we are knocked off-balance. Perhaps it’s bad news about our job being eliminated or disturbing test results from our doctor. It may even be an attack from our spiritual enemy. In each case, our emotional equilibrium is hammered, and we feel as if we can’t stand.

Those moments should cause us to turn to God. When we feel we are losing our balance, He can help. He provides spiritual resources to help us stand. Paul says, “Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Eph. 6:13).

When life knocks us off our feet, we don’t have to be frustrated. With God’s strength lifting us up and God’s armor protecting us, we can still stand strong.

With patience in His love I’ll rest,
And whisper that He knoweth best,
Then, clinging to that guiding hand,
A weakling, in His strength I’ll stand. —Pentecost

We can endure anything if we depend on God for everything.
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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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  #1262  
Old 01-19-2012, 03:11 AM
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Default Jan. 19

Magic Eye

January 19, 2012

Read: Hebrews 11:1-10

[God] is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. —Hebrews 11:6

One of my nephews brought a book of Magic Eye images to a family gathering. Magic Eye images look like ordinary two-dimensional patterns, but when viewed in a certain way, the flat surface appears three-dimensional.

We took turns trying to train our eyes to make the three-dimensional image pop out. One family member had trouble seeing the extra dimension. Several times I noticed he had the book open, looking at it from all different distances and directions. But even though he couldn’t see the hidden image, he believed it was there because others had seen it.

His persistence made me think about the importance of having the same tenacity in matters of faith. The danger for those who doubt is that they stop looking for God because they believe He can’t be found. Moses warned the Israelites that future generations would wander from God. He promised, however, that those who seek God with all their heart and soul will find Him (Deut. 4:29). The book of Hebrews confirms that God rewards those who diligently seek Him (11:6).

If you struggle to believe, remember: Just because you don’t see God doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist. He promises to be found by those who seek Him.

I searched with all my heart to know
If God was really there;
He graciously revealed Himself,
His mercy, love, and care. —Cetas

Because God is great, He will be sought;
because God is good, He will be found.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1263  
Old 01-20-2012, 02:59 AM
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Default Jan. 20

Extending Grace

January 20, 2012

Read: Matthew 9:9-13

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. —Matthew 9:12


In the mid-1970s, divorce filings and final decrees appeared in the Public Records section of our local newspaper. Rev. Bill Flanagan, a pastor at our church, read those names week after week and began to picture people, not statistics. So he created a Divorce Recovery Workshop to offer help and healing in Christ to hurting people during a difficult time. When concerned church members told Bill he was condoning divorce, he softly replied that he was simply extending God’s grace to folks in need.

When Jesus invited Matthew the tax collector to follow Him, he accepted. Matthew then invited Jesus to dinner at his house. After the religious leaders criticized Him for eating with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matt. 9:12-13). Jesus, the Great Physician, wants to meet each of us at our point of need, offering forgiveness, healing, and hope. What we don’t deserve, He freely gives.

By reaching out to people in need, we can extend to others this grace of God in Christ—guiding them to His healing touch.

There’s advantage in our weakness,
There is blessing in our pain;
It is when we’re feeling helpless
That God’s grace and strength sustain. —Fitzhugh

When you know God’s grace, you’ll want to show God’s grace.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1264  
Old 01-21-2012, 04:56 AM
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Default Jan. 21

Purge Out The Old

January 21, 2012

Read: 1 Corinthians 5

Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. —1 Corinthians 5:7

Several days before their New Year celebration, many Chinese families give their home a thorough cleaning. There’s a Cantonese saying that goes: “Wash away the dirt on ninyabaat” (28th day of month 12). They practice this tradition because it is believed the cleaning sweeps away the bad luck of the preceding year and makes their homes ready for good luck.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the believers at Corinth, he asked them to give their lives a thorough cleansing—not for good luck but to please God. He told them to “purge out the old leaven” (1 Cor. 5:7).
Paul used the Jewish feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread (Ex. 12:1-28) as a backdrop for this statement. Leaven (yeast) was a symbol of sin and corruption and was to be removed from Jewish homes to celebrate these festivals (Deut. 16:3-4). Because Jesus is the Passover Lamb who cleanses us from sin, the Corinthians were to scour their hearts and remove the leaven of sexual immorality, malice, and wickedness from their lives and their assembly (1 Cor. 5:9-13).
Out of gratitude to Jesus for His sacrifice, let us purge out the sin in our lives and celebrate the holiness that only He can bring.

The holiness of God demands
A heart that’s pure within,
Yet grace unites with holiness
To purge the heart from sin. —D. De Haan
Sin’s contamination requires the Savior’s cleansing.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1265  
Old 01-22-2012, 02:06 AM
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Default Jan. 22

Thank God For Music

January 22, 2012

Read: 2 Chronicles 5:7-14

When the trumpeters and singers were as one, . . . the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. —2 Chronicles 5:13-14

Music plays a big part in the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, God enlists musicians to work on His behalf. He uses music to call people to worship and to send them to war, to soothe ragged emotions and to ignite spiritual passion, to celebrate victories and to mourn losses. Music is an all-occasion, all-inclusive art form. There are followers and leaders, simple songs and complex songs, easy instruments and difficult instruments, melodies and harmonies, fast rhythms and slow rhythms, high notes and low notes.
Music is a wonderful metaphor for the church because everyone participates by doing what he or she does best. We all sing or play different notes at different times, but we all perform the same song. The better we know our parts, and the better we follow the conductor, the more beautiful the music.
One of the best uses for music is praise. When Solomon’s temple was completed, the musicians praised and thanked God. As they did, “the glory of the Lord filled the house of God” (2 Chron. 5:14).
We thank God for beautiful music, for it’s like a preview of heaven, where the glory of God will dwell forever and where praise for Him will never cease.

Bless the Lord and sing His praises,
Bless the Lord now, O my soul;
Join the song all heaven raises,
Let the anthem loudly roll! —Peterson
Those who praise God on earth will feel at home in heaven.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1266  
Old 01-23-2012, 03:57 AM
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Default Jan. 23

A Full Life

January 23, 2012

Read: Deuteronomy 8:7-18

Of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. —John 1:16

During the celebration of the Chinese New Year, it is customary to use certain words in print and conversation. One word is often used by itself. It is the word full, meaning “abundance of” and is used to wish someone material prosperity for the year ahead.
Moses told the Israelites about the wealth and prosperity in the land of Canaan before they entered it (Deut. 8:7-9). They would have everything they needed and more. But he warned them of the danger of forgetting that God, the One who had brought them out of Egypt and protected them along the way, had given them that abundance (v.11). Thus Moses commanded them, “You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth” (v.18).
“Wealth,” of course, is not just material things. Everything you have is from God. Our Lord Jesus told His disciples, “I have come that [you] may have life, and that [you] may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
We too may be tempted to forget that it’s the Lord who has blessed us and has met our needs. Our lives will be full, abundant, and satisfying only when we are connected to Jesus Christ.

You only are true Life,
To know You is to live
The more abundant life
That earth can never give. —Clarkson
Never let the abundance of God’s gifts
cause you to forget the Giver.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1267  
Old 01-24-2012, 01:04 AM
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Default Jan. 24

Gutters And Windows

January 24, 2012

Read: Matthew 23:23-31

Love from a pure heart . . . and from sincere faith. —1 Timothy 1:5

While we were out for a family drive, a spotless white sign with perfect red lettering caught my attention: “Gutters and Windows—Quality Work Guaranteed.” The sign was pristine, but I feared the house and barn directly behind it might collapse at any moment. The paint was peeling, the windows were cracked, and the gutters were nonexistent!
Many of us “advertise” for Jesus, but our spiritual houses are in disrepair. We may attend church, speak in “Christianese,” and mingle nicely with others. But when our conduct does not align with our hearts, our first-class behavior is just a performance of piety. When Jesus confronted the Pharisees, He said, “You . . . outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:28).
Jesus had a different but equally direct message for His followers: “Do not be like the hypocrites” (6:16). The Bible encourages us to “love from a pure heart . . . and from sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). These inner attitudes should pour out through our words and actions (Luke 6:45).
Today, consider the state of your spiritual house. If people look beyond the beautiful outward display, will they discover an authentic heart?

Hypocrisy is a common sin
That grieves the Lord above;
He longs for those who’ll worship Him
In faith and truth and love. —Bosch
God desires that our actions be a reflection of a pure heart.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1268  
Old 01-25-2012, 12:07 AM
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Default Jan. 25

Worth The Effort?

January 25, 2012

Read: Psalm 19:7-11

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for . . . righteousness. —2 Timothy 3:16

I once resolved to read all 38 of Shakespeare’s plays in one year. To my surprise, fulfilling the task seemed far more like entertainment than work. I expected to learn about Shakespeare’s world and the people who inhabited it, but I found that Shakespeare mainly taught me about my world.

I went through precisely that same process in encountering the Old Testament. Why does it spend so much time on temples, priests, and rules about sacrifices that no longer exist? How can we make sense of the Old Testament, and how does it apply to our lives today?

As I worked past some of the barriers, I came to feel a need to read because of what it was teaching me. Eventually I found myself wanting to read those 39 books. They were satisfying a hunger in me that nothing else had. They taught me about life with God.

The Old Testament speaks to our hunger. It gives an advanced course of “Life With God,” expressed in a style both personal and passionate.

The rewards offered do not come easily. All achievements require a similar process of hard work; we persevere because the rewards will come.

A glory gilds the sacred page,
Majestic like the sun;
It gives a light to every age,
It gives, but borrows none. —Cowper

The Bible gives us a picture of who we really are.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1269  
Old 01-26-2012, 03:47 AM
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Default Jan. 26

The Land Of And

January 26, 2012

Read: Revelation 22:1-5

We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. —2 Peter 3:13

In a TV commercial I saw recently, the kids argued in the back seat of the car about where to stop for dinner. One wanted pizza; another chicken. Mom, in the front passenger seat, said, “No, we’ll stop for a hamburger.”

Dad quickly solved the family disagreement with this idea: “We’ll stop at the buffet restaurant, and you can each have what you want and all you want.” The commercial closes with the words, “Take care of family squabbles about what’s for dinner. Go to _____ Buffet, the ‘Land of And.’”

When I saw that commercial, I thought of another “Land of And”: heaven. It is a place that will have all we need. Foremost, we will be in the very presence of Almighty God. In describing heaven, the apostle John said, “The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it” (Rev. 22:3). Our thirsty souls will be completely satisfied from the “pure river of water of life” that proceeds from His throne (22:1), for He says to His people, “I will give . . . freely to him who thirsts” (21:6). Another “and” in this land will be the tree of life for “the healing of the nations” (22:2). What we won’t find in this Land of And are the curse (22:3), death, sorrow, and tears (21:4).

We’ll be completely satisfied in that Land of And. Are you ready to go?

There is a land of pure delight,
Where saints immortal reign;
Infinite day excludes the night,
And pleasures banish pain. —Watts

Earth—the land of trials; heaven—the land of joys.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1270  
Old 01-27-2012, 02:23 AM
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Default Jan. 27

Hidden In The Rock

January 27, 2012

Read: Psalm 18:30-36

The Lord is my rock and my fortress. —Psalm 18:2

The story is told of a young preacher named Augustus Toplady, who was taking a walk through the English countryside when a sudden storm swept across the landscape. Toplady spotted a wide rock formation with an opening—a cleft—where he sought shelter until the storm passed. As he sat out the deluge, he contemplated the connection between his shelter and God’s help in life’s storms.

He had no paper to write on but found a playing card on the floor of the cavelike structure and began to write the words to the beloved hymn “Rock of Ages.”

Written on that stormy day in 1775, this hymn has been a source of strength for Christians ever since.

Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Think of your struggles. Do you need a place to hide? Do you need Someone to shelter you from life’s assaults? Do you need the assurance that you’ve been forgiven? As Toplady experienced, we can find shelter and assurance in God.

Don’t stand out in life’s storms alone. Seek God’s shelter. Ask Him to protect you. Make sure you have received His forgiveness. Get close to the Rock of Ages. It’s life’s safest spot.

When the world around you is crumbling,
God is the rock on which you can stand.
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-Colossians 3:23

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